GM granted court injunction after former worker repeatedly tries to enter Oshawa Assembly Plant
Compliance & Enforcement Health & Safety General Motors GM ontario Oshawa workplace violence
General Motors has been granted a court injunction against a former worker who has repeatedly tried to enter its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., over the last few months.
The man, an agency employee hired by The Staffing Connection, was placed at the Oshawa Assembly Plant (OAP). The agency provides workers to TFT Global, which in turn provides material handling services for GM. The assembly plant builds light- and heavy-duty pick up trucks, including the Chevrolet Silverado.
The worker was terminated in September 2022 following complaints of sexual harassment. But, since being fired, he has tried to enter the OAP on 11 separate occasions, sometimes successfully. In court filings, Jeff Scratch — manager of global security for General Motors — detailed the events and the harm caused by this former worker’s behaviour.
Shift change provided opportunity
The man tried to enter the plant during shift change, when the gates open and hundreds of workers enter and leave the building. While the OAP has key card access and turnstiles, it opens the gates during these “free-flow” periods.
He first tried to enter the plant on Dec. 4, 2022. He arrived dressed in safety gear, as though ready to work, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said in its ruling.
Between Dec. 4, 2022, and Feb. 23, 2023, he tried nearly a dozen times to get into the plant, and his attempts to access it were increasing in frequency. He was issued a Notice of Trespass by the Staffing Connection in December 2022, and received two more notices directly from GM in January and February 2023. He ignored them.
Police called, but no charges
The Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) was called each time the man showed up, but it wasn’t until the fifth time — on Jan. 17, 2023 — that a citation for trespassing was issued. On Feb. 5, it issued a second citation and, when he came back again on Feb. 7, police told GM there was nothing they could do without a restraining order, short of him uttering threats or assaulting someone.
But he had already injured a guard, who received a minor cut on his hand, during an altercation. And during one unsuccessful attempt to get in, he told a security guard that he would “vanish” him. He also made bizarre claims, including that he owned GM and the building where he used to work.
The first time he entered the OAP, he went looking for his former manager. He cornered a woman in the lunch room, “intruded into her personal space and had demanded to see” his former boss. The woman was found distressed and in tears.
On the 11th, and final incident to date, he spat on one of the guards and police pursued him as he fled. Another citation was issued, and two guards went to the local police detachment to provide a statement. They were advised the man would be charged with assault, but that had not yet happened as of the date of the court ruling and it remained unclear if it would happen. On top of that, there were no conditions that prevented the man from returning to the assembly plant yet again.
GM’s case: Obligation to provide a safe workplace, higher costs
GM noted that, as a result of this man’s conduct, it had assigned four extra guards during shift changes. The approximate cost of one one guard is about $63 per hour.
The local HR and labour relations director at the OAP also noted that employees had expressed concerns about their safety, and of the guards — who are unarmed. It also pointed to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, which obligates employers to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe working environment.
The court’s decision
The court granted an injunction preventing the man from going to the assembly plant or anywhere else on the company’s premises. It noted that GM does have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace, and that its repeated attempts to “enlist the aid of DRPS” have not solved the issue.
“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 said.
It pointed to the man’s threat to “vanish” a guard as evidence that General Motors could suffer irreparable harm if an injunction weren’t granted. There simply was no legal mechanism to stop his behaviour, it noted.
“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.
It also noted that, according to GM, police said their hands were tied without a restraining order — and that they would be able to take more action if GM obtained an injunction.
“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,” it said.
The injunction will remain in place until it is amended or terminated by the court.
For more information, see General Motors of Canada Company v. Osita-Adubasim, 2023 ONSC 1723 (CanLII).