COTAPSA In Action: Case Stories

Employer to make Policies Clear and Concise, Not Ambiguous! Treat Employees Fairly.

An employee held (2) different positions at (2) different pay grades during a performance review period.  The position with the higher pay grade (WG7) was deleted due to restructuring.  The employee was appointed to a lower pay rated position (WG6). As a result, the employee's salary was red-circled.  The employee completed two (2) separate performance pay forms for the review period.  A performance pay form was completed for the position at a (WG 7) and another for the position she held at (WG6). The employee received a performance rating of (met objectives 3%) for both positions.  Because the employee was at the top of the salary range of (WG 7), COTAPSA believed that the employee was eligible to receive a pro-rated re-earnable performance pay (lump sum payment) for the position at a (WG 7).  City Human Resources staff disagreed.

Result:  COTAPSA put much effort into convincing the City’s Human Resources staff, unsuccessfully, that the employee was entitled to receive a pro-rated re-earnable performance pay for the review period.   Subsequently, COTAPSA submitted a claim to Small Claims Court for this performance pay.  The Court ruled in the employee's favor and COTAPSA won the case. The employee received the pro-rated re-earnable performance pay for the position with the higher pay grade (WG7).

Part-time employment, not Fixed Term!

Employees came to COTAPSA regarding extension of part-time employment letters they received from the City and were being asked to sign confirming that they accept the extended offer of employment.  The employees discussed their situation at length with COTAPSA, such that we have been able to discern that: their original offer of employment was not a fixed term contract; they are employed under no fixed term; their status of employment is part-time management positions not contract work; and there was no agreement that would bring the contract to an end.  

Result:  COTAPSA contacted the Division and stated that the Letter(s) were inappropriate and out of order.  The City cannot unilaterally change terms of conditions of employment.  The Division agreed and withdrew their extension letters.

Worker returned from Sick Leave Then Terminated!

An employee attempted to return from sick leave to her full-time position only to be summarily terminated.  She alleged that her termination of employment was a reprisal against her because she became ill and went off on sick leave.  The employee went off on sick leave to focus on her medical treatment and rehabilitation.  Her physician recommended that she return to a graduated schedule to help build up her strength and help with her recovery. The employee returned to work on a graduated plan working half days for a period of four (4) weeks.  Upon her return to full-time work, she was terminated.

Result:  COTAPSA contacted our legal firm to review this very unusual termination in light of the human rights aspects of this matter.  After much discussion with City Human Resources, and City Legal, COTAPSA was able to arrive at a mutual agreement between the City and the employee. Our member was given a significant settlement severance.

Sick Pay Gratuity Payout (SPG) A Successful Outcome!  

When an employee contacted Payroll, Pension and Employee Benefits (PPEB) regarding his SPG payout, he was told that he was not entitled to a payment based on the acting rate as of termination/retirement for the calculation of his SPG because he is currently on an acting rate.  PPEB stated that his sick pay gratuity will be paid at the base rate not the acting rate.    COTAPSA disagreed.  

Result: COTAPSA refused to budge from our position that the SPG payout is based on the salary at the time of the termination/retirement in accordance with the Sick Leave Plan.  COTAPSA indicated to the City that we were prepared to challenge the City's position unless it complied with the STD Policy approved by City Council. PPEB consulted with City's Legal department.  After the City received a legal opinion, PPEB confirmed that the City will payout the SPG based on the acting rate as of termination/retirement not his base rate.

Supervisor Unjustly Disciplined

A Supervisor was wrongly accused of failing to perform his/her duties that resulted in a serious incident.  The Supervisor was given a seventeen (17) day suspension by the City who attempted to place all the blame on the Supervisor.  COTAPSA challenged the seventeen (17) day suspension and provided legal representation for the Supervisor during the legal proceedings that ensured.

Result:  The seventeen (17) day suspension was reduced to five (5) days and the Supervisor was exonerated of legal proceedings against him/her.

Due Process Not Followed

A Member retired.  Prior to his retirement, there were outstanding issues that were not addressed.  Without his knowledge, he was granted a 0% performance rating.  At no time, did he receive any feedback regarding his performance.

He called COTAPSA.  COTAPSA learned that because he received a 0% performance rating; he did not qualify for the 2.42% Retirement Incentive.

Result: COTAPSA contacted City HR Staff and the Member received his Pay for Performance and his 2.42% Retirement Incentive.

Left in Limbo

A Member who had been an employee of the former City of Etobicoke came to COTAPSA.  At the time of amalgamation when his position was terminated due to restructuring, he should have been given the option of a Position Termination Package or given the option to apply for other City of Toronto positions. Instead, he was confirmed in a Local 79 position on an acting basis.  The Member was told that his terms and conditions of employment would remain exempt.  Without his knowledge, he was placed into a position one step lower as he was unsuccessful in obtaining a supervisory position.  His salary was red-circled.  As a result, he was never mapped to an interim range.  This caused some internal equities – position never evaluated – the Member was left in limbo and red-circled.

Result: COTAPSA contacted the City HR Staff.  The City agreed to map the Member to an interim salary range, apply non-union increase, merit increases and continue to have the Member participate in the management/exempt performance management program.  This resulted in a substantial amount of retroactive lump sum pay.

Disguised Discipline

A Member received a Letter of Expectation and Letter of Notice at the same time.  He was both surprised and highly disconcerted to receive both letters together.  He had been a dedicated, loyal employee; consistently rewarded for his good work and dedication through annual performance increases.  The Member contacted COTAPSA for assistance.

COTAPSA reviewed both Letters and questioned the timing of the Letters and the language contained within.  The Letter of Expectation stated that “any further incident warranting disciplinary action may lead to further discipline including suspensions without pay or termination.”  In COTAPSA’s opinion, the Letter of Expectation formed a “disciplinary letter.”  It was also our opinion that the City “disguised discipline” in the form of a Letter of Expectation.

Result: COTAPSA contacted City HR staff, requested that the Letters be retracted and removed.  Through COTAPSA’s intervention, the City agreed that the Letter of Expectation was not intended to be disciplinary. The City agreed to reissue the Letter of Expectation with the removal of the last sentence that contained the reference to further discipline and/or termination.

Reprisal for Speaking Up

When a Member was not permitted to return to her base permanent position which existed and was subsequently given working notice of termination, COTAPSA intervened believing this was a “reprisal”.

Result: COTAPSA believed that the working notice of termination was as a result of reporting to the Auditor General’s Office and filing a Human Rights Complaint.  COTAPSA contacted the City Manager’s office for assistance, and requested clarification of the Fraud Prevention Policy, in particular the “reprisal complaints”.  Because of COTAPSA perseverance and determination the working notice of termination was rescinded.

Legacy Jobs

A Member’s position was placed in the union; however, he was still exempt and continued to complete Performance Planners.  Although granted a merit increase, payroll advised the Member that he cannot receive his Re-earnable Lump Sum pay.  The Member had been at the maximum of his salary range for sometime and did not have a wage grade as his position was not mapped.

Result: COTAPSA contacted City HR staff.  City HR agreed that the Member was eligible for a Re-earnable Lump Sum bonus.  He received his re-earnable bonuses, whenever the Member met his objectives.

Not Compensated for Standby Pay

When Members of Facilities Management approached COTAPSA with concerns regarding the application and enforcement of the City’s Policy on Standby/Call- In/Emergency Situation Pay; in particular, the deliberate omission from being compensated under this Policy – COTAPSA intervened.   

Result: After a lengthy discussion with City Staff, the City agreed to implement a formal Standby Protocol for our Members.  They were also granted some retro-active pay.

Where We Advocate

COTAPSA Meets regularly with City Officials:

  • Councillors
  • City Manager
  • Deputy City Managers
  • Senior Officials

COTAPSA Presents issues and deputes to various City Council Committees:

  • Employee and Labour Relations Committee
  • Budget Committee
  • Executive Committee

COTAPSA Provides leadership workplace reorganization with:

  • Committee on Toronto Public Service
  • Benefits Monitoring Committee
  • City Human Resources/COTAPSA Committee
  • Occupational Health and Safety Co-ordinating Committee

How We Take Action

COTAPSA Advocates for improvements to terms and conditions of employment in:

  • Benefits
  • Job Evaluation
  • Compensation
  • City Policies

COTAPSA Monitors City Policies and Practices to ensure fairness and equity in:

  • Sick Leave Policy
  • Lieu Time/Overtime Policy
  • Acting Assignment Policy
  • Hiring Practices
  • Human Rights Complaints
  • Unused Vacation Days
  • Performance Management
  • Mileage Increase
  • Governance Reviews

COTAPSA Represents Members in the following areas:

  • Job Evaluation, Request for Reconsideration
  • Letters of Expectation
  • Termination Packages