Whistleblowing employee should have gone to police, not union

|Canadian Employment Law Today

Merk v. I.A.B.S.O.I., Local 771, 2003 CarswellSask 720, 28 C.C.E.L. (3d) 179 (Sask. C.A.)

For 12 years Linda Merk was the office manager and bookkeeper for, but not a member of, the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local 771. She became concerned about possible expense account fraud by two of her supervisors and spoke to one of them about it. The general president of the union, on receiving a complaint about the matter, instituted an investigation, the result of which dismissed Merk’s complaints but which was found by the original trial judge to be “completely inappropriate.”

On Oct. 19, 2001, Merk wrote to the general president about a number of issues, including the expenses, in which she said if the union didn’t act “the members are going to the police.” On Nov. 5 she received a letter of dismissal from the union, which said in part that it was “due to a number of matters…, as well as you forwarding your Oct. 19, 2001, correspondence to (the general president).” Merk started an action under s. 74 of Saskatchewan’s