National News

Arbitrator to decide soon in case of rail conductor fired for social media posts

By The Canadian Press

Published 12:05 PST, Fri November 29, 2019

CALGARY — A train conductor who was fired from Canadian Pacific Railway two years ago over social media posts says she expects to find out soon whether she'll get her job back.

Stephanie Katelnikoff says she's expecting an arbitration decision in the next two weeks.

The company's submissions, which were obtained by The Canadian Press, say Katelnikoff showed a lackadaisical attitude toward safety when she posed for modelling photos on railway tracks and posted the images online.

CP further argued that disparaging comments she made about the company on social media undermined its ability to manage its operations and direct its workforce — and that it believes Katelnikoff's expressions of remorse afterward were insincere.

The union representing Katelnikoff argued in its submissions, also obtained by The Canadian Press, that the company's investigation was not fair and impartial.

It contends the discipline was unjustified, unwarranted and excessive, and that the company failed to treat her diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a mitigating factor.

"The union requests that the discipline be removed in its entirety and that Ms. Katelnikoff be made whole for all associated losses," a union lawyer wrote.

Katelnikoff's dismissal in November 2017 was the second time she was let go from the railway.

On Boxing Day in 2014, a train Katelnikoff was conducting derailed, sending 15 cars off the tracks in Banff, Alta. A product used to make concrete called fly ash, as well as soybeans, spilled into a creek.

The Transportation Safety Board determined that a broken piece of track caused the crash.

Katelnikoff had some respiratory symptoms from breathing in the ash, but there were no other injuries. She was fired a month later. The company said it was because she violated rules on injury reporting and protecting an accident scene.

She had been on the job less than six months and later publicly criticized the training she received.

In February 2016, arbitrator Maureen Flynn found in Katelnikoff's favour. Flynn said the company's grounds for termination were discriminatory and in bad faith.

– Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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