Court finds evidence lacking after worker alleges racism following dismissal without cause

Forde v. Artisan Screen Print Ltd., 2002 CarswellOnt 5604 (Ont. Bd. of Inquiry)

George Forde was born in Guyana. He immigrated to Canada and, in 1991, began working at Artisan, doing various tasks on the shop floor. Forde is black and a Rastafarian, with dreadlocks and a beard.

Forde worked the night shift until a day in 1995 when the Ontario Human Rights Commission, as part of its ruling in a racial discrimination case he filed, ordered him transferred (with his consent) to days.

He was still working days when the company fired him in 1998 with the required amount of severance. The company eventually offered him more money, but Forde rejected the offer and filed another complaint with the commission.

In his complaint, he said he had been the victim of numerous incidents of racial and religious discrimination and harassment by three employees of Artisan.

Generally, he said, Artisan was poisoned against black employees. He said the company refused to assign him overtime after he made his first complaint to the commission.

Forde also said the company’s president often shadowed him and stared at him in a threatening manner.He said he also told him Forde could not appear in a promotional video because he looked “nasty” and that he made fun of his skin colour during a power outage by pretending he couldn’t see him in the dim light.

He also said Artisan paid white workers more than black workers and gave white workers more overtime.

Forde represented himself at the hearing in February 2002 and said he would not provide any documentation but would rely on witness testimony. He subsequently tried to file one document that referred to mediation that another member of the board had previously conducted in the matter.

The court advised Forde that all references to the mediation discussion must be removed, at which point Forde withdrew from participating in the hearing. Artisan’s submissions were heard in Forde’s absence.

The court concluded that it did not have sufficient evidence to support the allegations of harassment or discrimination and dismissed the complaint.

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