The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has dismissed an application from a former Ford employee alleging discrimination based on disability against his union.
The application, submitted nearly 18 years after the initial incident, was deemed untimely and outside the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
The applicant, a former employee of Ford Motor Company and a member of Unifor, claimed that he was forced to sign a waiver in October 2002, relinquishing his right to file a grievance against Ford if terminated within a probationary period.
He alleged that his subsequent termination in June 2003 was due to his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that the union refused to file a grievance against Ford, despite a favourable decision from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) linking his PTSD to his injuries.
Spanning over 17 years, the case’s timeline began with the signing of the waiver in 2002 and included the applicant’s termination from Ford, various legal actions with different boards, and his application for benefits due to PTSD. The Tribunal noted that the union consistently refused to file a grievance on his behalf, citing the waiver as the reason.
Under Section 34 of the Human Rights Code, applications must be brought within one year of the incident or the last incident in a series. The Tribunal found that the union’s refusal to represent the applicant in 2019 was a consequence of the waiver signed in 2002, not a separate incident of discrimination. As such, the application, filed in March 2020, was outside the one-year limitation period.
The Tribunal also noted that the applicant had not provided a good faith explanation for the delay in filing the application. Consequently, the application was dismissed for being untimely, and the Tribunal concluded it lacked jurisdiction to proceed with the case.
For more information, see Cadrin v. Unifor, 2023 HRTO 1620 (CanLII).