Employment Law Question sent to me:  Is it possible to seek outside representation if one is a Unionized employee?

For the most part, you cannot sue your unionized employer in court; you must exhaust the grievance procedures provided in the collective agreement. 

Unionized employees need to consult with their union representatives.  An employment lawyer can supplement the opinion you are given, but generally he or she cannot take legal action on your behalf.  In appropriate cases, an employment lawyer may be able to take on a supervisory role with respect to a grievance or legal issue you have.   

Despite these restrictions, there are legal certain claims that a court will entertain even though they arose in the unionized environment.  Claims for wrongs such as sexual harassment, or defamation, may be brought in the courts, by a lawyer.  But you risk the court declining jurisdiction if the judge feels that it is better dealt with by an arbitrator, appointed pursuant to the collective agreement. 

Best of luck,
Daniel Lublin

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