Disputes often arise from good intentions gone wrong.
In a recent case, the Prairie North Health Region (PNHR) tried to amend its practice for employees wearing name tags. The change was to have the full name (first and last), job title, and picture of the employee on an identity badge, rather than just the employee’s first name. As noted in the article, the purpose of implementing this change came as a result of the employer wanting to promote a patient first philosophy and to equalize the balance of power between patient and health care provider.
The union representing the workers, CUPE Local 5111, disagreed and filed a grievance in order to stop this change in practice. The grievance, as noted in the article was based on several grounds, with the allegation of violation of employee privacy as the primary concern. The matter was not resolved internally. As a result, the dispute went to arbitration for a final resolution imposed by a three-party panel of arbitrators.
The arbitrators’ decision fell on the side of the union. The employer had to rescind the new policy and had to implement new cards showing only employee first names, job titles along with a photo.
As you will note, this case is extensive. It shows the amount of critical detail, witnesses, testimony, legislative impact, evidence of past practice and presentation of other precedent setting cases required in order for this matter to be resolved through a board of arbitration. It was definitely a costly exercise for everyone involved.
Clearly, our names and our right to protect our own personal privacy has value.
One wonders, however, how much the value of good intentions truly cost all of the parties in this case.
- Who would benefit from employees wearing name tags with first and last name?
- Why do employees, in this case, have a ‘greater’ right to privacy than patients?
- What elements of this case would prevent it from being resolved within the applicable grievance resolution process?
- Why, do you think, a case like this would proceed to arbitration?
- What lessons would you take from your reading of this case?