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UPDATE: Massa human rights complaint against the RSU deferred to union

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By Al Downham 

The human rights complaint filed by Gilary Massa — a recently laid off Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) employee — has been deferred by an adjudicator, according to RSU president Andrea Bartlett.

The complaint will be deferred from the tribunal to the local labour union, CUPE 1281, until Massa has gone through a formal grievance procedure.

Saron Gebresellassi, Massa’s lawyer, said a deferral is “common practice” and ensures efficiency in the process.

“Because there is some overlap [in the cases], [the adjudicator] is saying, ‘Finish off you’re grievance process and then we’ll hear it once that’s wrapped up,” Gebresellassi said. “It makes sense.”

But Bartlett said Massa did not go through the proper procedures after pursuing a grievance with both her union and the tribunal simultaneously.

“Because the grievance is confidential, and because an election was coming up, we believe Gilary decided to make a human rights complaint as well, for political reasons,” Bartlett said in an emailed response.

According to Bartlett, she and her executive team objected to being named in the claim. The tribunal agreed because Massa’s claim was against her employer, the RSU.

“We believe we were named so that we would be intimidated.” Bartlett said.

Despite the amendment to the complaint’s name, Gebresellassi said Massa’s employers’ individual names “would still be revealed ultimately in an actual decision.”

“It is a public human rights campaign,” Gebresellassi said. “What the individual students and student union should be concerned about is its reputation, because its readily apparent that the RSU, what they did, is morally repugnant. It is illegal.”

Massa — who was on maternity leave —  and Dina Skvirsky, who occupied Massa’s Executive Director of Communications and Outreach (EDCO) position, were laid off in December when the RSU underwent restructuring. The restructuring replaced the EDCO position with a general manager. 

The complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario was filed in February. 

After the layoffs, her union stated it would fight the RSU’s decision through a grievance procedure. Bartlett said in February that the tribunal would defer her complaint.

Gebresellassi said the case will continue after the union grievance procedure is through.

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