General Motors has been granted a court injunction to stop a former worker from trespassing at its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont.
The move came after the worker, employed by a staffing agency and placed at the plant, was fired after complaints of sexual harassment. Since being let go, he has tried to enter the plant — sometimes successfully — on 11 different occasions.
The worker, who we’ll call CO, was employed by The Staffing Connection and placed at GM’s Oshawa Assembly Plant (OAP). The plant builds light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks.
The Staffing Connection is an agency that provides workers to TFT Global, which in turn provides material handling services to GM.
On Sept. 26, 2022, CO’s employment with The Staffing Connection was terminated due to complaints of sexual harassment. It removed his key card and revoked permission to enter the assembly plant.
But, since being fired, he had gained access — or attempted to gain access — to the plant on 11 different occasions. Jeff Scratch, manager of global security for GM, supplied affidavits that detailed the events and the harm caused by CO.
‘Free flow’ periods
CO tried to enter the plant during what the company calls “free flow” periods. During shift changes, hundreds of GM employees and personnel enter and leave Building C through Gate 4. While the assembly plant is equipped with key card access and turnstiles, it opens the gates — including Gate 4 — during free-flow.
CO used those opportunities to try and gain access and evade security measures. The evidence shows that he arrived dressed in safety gear, as though ready to work, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said.
He tried to gain access starting on Dec. 4, 2022, up until Feb. 23, 2023. On each occasion, security guards were involved in preventing his access or escorting him from the plant. The dates of his attempts to enter the plant showed a pattern of increasing frequency.
On Dec. 7, 2022, The Staffing Connection delivered a Notice of Trespass to CO. It advised him not to contact, trespass or enter the assembly plant.
On Jan. 23, 2023, and again on Feb. 7, 2023, GM delivered a Notice of Trespass and a site ban to CO. A registered receipt and delivery confirmation indicated the documents were received. CO has ignored both notices.
Police called, trespass citations issued
On each occasion, the local police force — Durham Regional Police Service (DPRS) — was called. It was not until the fifth incident, on Jan. 17, 2023, that DRPS issued a citation for trespass to CO.
Police issued a second citation for trespass after the sixth incident on Feb. 5, 2023. These citations did nothing to deter CO from attempting to enter the plant.
On Feb. 7, police were called again and escorted CO from the property. At that time, DRPS said no further action beyond issuing a citation for trespass could be taken without a restraining order — or if CO engaged in a threatening offence such as uttering threats or assaulting someone.
But an assault against a security guard had actually already occurred, the court noted.
Looking for his boss, other disturbing behaviour
The first time CO entered the property, on Dec. 7, 2022, he was looking for his former manager at TFT Global.
An area leader received a telephone call from a female employee who stated that a man had cornered her in the kitchen, “intruded into her personal space and had demanded to see (his former boss).” When the area leader arrived, he found the woman in tears and distressed.
OC was still in the kitchen, angry and agitated, and was demanding to talk to the manager about his termination and pay. The area leader and the plant manager escorted him out of OAP after advising OC that his manager was not on duty.
When asked to leave the second time, OC responded by stating that he owned General Motors.
During the fifth incident, he evaded security guards for several minutes. When confronted and restrained by security, he pushed one of the guards — resulting in a minor cut on the guard’s hand. Police were “unhelpful” in ensuring the incident was properly investigated, even when Scratch intervened to see if a statement from the guard could be taken. Charges were never laid.
During the sixth incident, OC again sought out his former boss — but the guards were able to physically restrain him against a turnstile until police arrived. This was caught on video.
Threat to ‘vanish’ security guard
In incident eight, OC told a guard who was blocking him from entry that he would “vanish” him. OC said he owned the building and was not going to leave.
The incident report noted he was visibly upset and acting in a violent manner, appearing ready to attack the guards or TFT employees at any moment.
During the ninth incident, security guards filmed OC’s behaviour. He again questioned why he could not enter his “own building” and insisted he worked at the OAP. He uttered profanities towards the guards and said he was going to show them “where I’m allowed and you’re not going to say shit about it.”
In the eleventh, and latest, incident, he was again stopped from entering by security. He spat on one of the guards and police pursued him as he fled. They issued another citation.
The victim, and another security guard, went to the DRPS detachment to provide a statement. They were advised that OC would be charged with assault.
But the evidence indicates that has not yet happened, and the assault is still under investigation. Further, there were no conditions to prevent OC from gaining access to the assembly plant.
Added costs for GM, safety concerns from employees
Since Jan. 19, 2023, as a result of OC’s conduct, GM has assigned four extra guards during shift changes. The cost of one guard is about $63 per hour.
GM’s site HR and labour relations director at the OAP told Scratch that GM employees have expressed concerns about their personal safety — and that of the guards, who are unarmed.
Scratch also noted that GM has an obligation, under Ontario’s health and safety laws, to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of its workforce.
The court noted that OC has created an atmosphere in which GM employees and security guards have felt violated and unsafe.
“It is also clear that GM has attempted to enlist the aid of (police), whose responses have not resolved the problem,” it said. “None of the actions taken by GM or the police have stopped the defendant from his persistent behaviour, which he has shown can escalate to overt aggression.”
It cited OC’s behaviour, including aggression and the threats to “vanish” a guard, as evidence that GM could suffer irreparable harm.
“The defendant has so far been undeterred, and there is currently no legal instrument in place to thwart his behaviour,” it said. “The ongoing risk associated with his behaviour is a repetition of assaults, threats, physical injury and trespass, all of which are non-compensable.”
It said there was “absolutely no prejudice” to OC, who was trespassing and otherwise breaking the law, and had no legitimate interest to attend the assembly plant or go anywhere else on GM’s premises.
It said GM had met the test for an interlocutory injunction.
“It is appropriate to include as a term of this order a requirement for the DRPS to take all necessary steps to either assist the Sheriff or act independently to prevent or stop breaches of this court’s order,” it said.
“According to Mr. Scratch’s affidavit, the DRPS advised GM that they would be able to take more action if GM obtained a restraining order. It is the intention of the court that this order provide the police with all necessary authority to protect GM’s property, employees and third-party contractors from the defendant before his behaviour further escalates.”
The injunction will remain in effect until it is varied or terminated by the court.
For more information see General Motors of Canada Company v. Osita-Adubasim, 2023 ONSC 1723 (CanLII).