July 5, 2007
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has reached a settlement with a number of complainants and General Motors of Canada Limited, in complaints alleging discrimination on the ground of citizenship and place of origin.
General Motors Defense (“GMD”) was a division of General Motors of Canada Limited (“GMCL”), which manufactured military vehicles for various governments, including that of the United States prior to selling its operation to General Dynamics Land Systems Canada Corporation.
In order to produce these vehicles, GMD received material and data that was exported from the United States. Among other things, the federal law incorporates rules from American export control laws stating that no person who holds a citizenship other than Canadian or American can have access to certain information, unless a security clearance has been obtained from the U.S. State Department.
The settlement arises from complaints filed by six unionized employees who are Canadian citizens or landed immigrants who also hold citizenships from countries other than Canada or the United States. The complainants alleged that GMCL called them and other workers to a meeting, where it told them that they were being sent home with pay for reasons relating to their citizenship. The complainants say that GMCL did not apply for security clearances on their behalf. The unionized employees were later returned to work but subjected to new restrictions in terms of access to information required to do their job, or provided alternative assignments.
Monetary remedies were provided to the complainants. Under the settlement, General Dynamics Land Systems Canada Corporation will continue with its practice of making all reasonable efforts to secure such lawful permission as may be obtained to minimize any differential treatment for such employees.
Earlier this year, the Commission also settled complaints brought by non-unionized workers against GMD.