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THE QUESTION

In our collective agreement, it says that the union is the sole representative for the employee to the employer. If I get fired, and the arbitration goes against me, can I still get a lawyer to fight my case, or is my union the sole representative?

THE FIRST ANSWER

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Daniel Lublin Employment lawyer, Whitten & Lublin, Toronto

You cannot sue your company in court if you are represented by a trade union under a collective agreement, especially where the dispute relates to a termination, since it is an issue directly related to your employment relationship.

In this situation, you will have to rely on your union to fairly represent your interests in any dispute with the company.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Colleen Clarke Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

Between now and when a decision is made about your employment, toe the line, keep your head down, excel at your job and keep your thoughts to yourself. Leaving or staying, you want to do it by taking the high road.

The union will be representing you in the case brought against you by your employer, a situation over which you have no control.

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What happens afterward, however, is within your control and you might want to give some thought to how you are going to proceed if you are dismissed.

Talk to your family or a close friend about what you are thinking and feeling. Discuss how routines, plans and spending might have to change.

Start removing all personal files and e-mails from your work computer.

Go through your personal effects and take home or throw out superfluous accumulated items.

Put together samples of your work, within the allowances of the company, and compile contact information on colleagues, clients and vendors for future networking purposes.

Plan a classy exit. Imagine hearing the words, "We're letting you go." Examine your emotions and try to do your reacting and feeling ahead of time so you can leave with dignity.

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Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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