By Carmen Chai
The Ryerson Students’ Union is burning through what’s left of its legal budget because an executive member refuses to accept a proposed $3,500 settlement.
“Every e-mail, every call is costing us money,” RSU President Nora Loreto said. “[RSU VP Student Life and Events] Abe [Snobar] is actively obstructing a motion, blatantly defying the will of the committee and pinning everything on [RSU VP Finance and Services] Chris Drew.”
In a September report, Drew said the RSU had already spent over $10,000 of its $15,000 legal budget for the year.
Snobar said he would have been confident to go to court against Rose because it was not a wrongful dismissal. “It was a defamation of character on me to give her job back,” he said.
He is upset Drew, a friend of Rose’s and a part of the hiring committee, rehired Rose after he had fired her from the Working Students Centre in July.
“This is the worst action he could do. It was a unilateral decision of Drew’s. Who is he lying to? We’re not stupid.”
Drew said he did not rehire Rose. “If we rehired her, we would be giving her, her old job back,” he said.
Drew said there is no policy that certain students can’t apply for a job and that she was the most qualified.
Loreto moved to settle Rose’s lawsuit for $3,500 at an executive committee meeting earlier this month.
But the committee tabled the motion until Snobar got a chance to consult Mike Richards of Davis LLP, the lawyer handling the case for the union, after Snobar complained about the cost.
“I’ve been contacting our lawyer. I want him to give us better options and I’d like to see this over and done with in the best way,” he said.
In an e-mail sent to the RSU a few weeks ago, Richards advised the union lost its chance to go to court once it had rehired Rose.
The best option was to settle with Rose because the union had significantly weakened its position.
“The fact that Miss Rose was rehired by the RSU significantly undermines, if not completely eliminates any argument that she was terminated for just cause,” Richards said in the e-mail.
Two law professors at the University of Toronto said the issue is no longer a legal matter, but an internal conflict the RSU needs to settle. When reached, Richards would not comment, citing the sensitivity of the case.
Snobar said Loreto’s friendship with Rose influenced the settlement amount, but Loreto denied any conflict of interest. “Even if I’m friends with her, I remained opposed to firing her, no matter who it was. I knew that firing her is inappropriate,” she said.
“How could you be friends with someone who threatened to sue your union? Either you’re going to be loyal to the RSU or to your friend,” Snobar said.
“It’s not a huge surprise that he’s calling out my integrity. He thinks everything I’ve done is out to get him. “He always wanted to be president. This is just a petty beef with me.”
But Snobar thinks Loreto’s friendship with Rose influenced the settlement amount.
“I feel I should be handling the case,” he said.