Franklin Law may have created a human rights law precedent in Ontario by challenging an unsupportive Union: Ron Franklin is currently representing an employee in a duty of fair representation complaint against his Union and a human rights complaint against his employer. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Union attempted to intervene in the employee’s human rights complaint against his employer. We say “unfortunate” because the Union, instead of supporting the worker, wanted to question witnesses, present evidence and argue that the employer did not violate the worker’s human rights. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has routinely granted Unions’ request to intervene in cases where one of their member employees claims he or she has been discriminated against by the employer. But in our case, such an outcome would have been disastrous as the Union’s position was more supportive of the employer than the worker. Franklin Law argued forcefully that the Union had no part to play in the HRTO proceedings because the dispute was between the employee and the employer and that the real reason why the Union wanted to participate was because the employee had previously brought a duty of fair representation complaint against it. In a well reasoned decision, the HRTO denied the Union’s request to intervene, and relied on many of the arguments we raised in our lengthy submission. This case is important not only because it provides insight into the legal principles that the HRTO takes into account in deciding whether or not to grant intervenor status to a Union, but also because it may be the first case in Ontario in which the HRTO flatly denied a Union’s request to intervene after reviewing submissions from both the worker and the Union. To the extent that this decision sets precedent in Ontario, we expect that it may be of benefit to other employees in situations where their Union remains unsupportive in the face of serious allegations of discrimination. For a copy of the decision (2010 HRTO 1323), please click here.
Franklin Law looks to set a precedent on the duty to accommodate under Ontario’s Human Rights Code: When an employer terminates an employee because of poor performance and the next day becomes aware, for the first time, that the employee’s performance may have been affected by a disability, does the Human Rights Code require the employer to revisit their decision to terminate and take steps to investigate the possibility of accommodating the employee? That is the question raised by a worker that Ron Franklin is representing at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Stay tuned for updates on this important and potentially precedent setting case.