Dr. Dawg

The high cost of racism

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Racism eggs.jpg

To the taxpayer, that is. You. Me.

In Ottawa, another chapter in the long saga of National Research Council scientist Chander Grover is currently unfolding. His battle began in 1987. It continues to this day, with no end in sight.

A world expert in optics, Grover was denied advancement and refused permission even to go to conferences in his field. In 1992, he was found by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to have suffered vicious racist discrimination at the hands of NRC managers.

Between 1986 and 1990 Dr. Grover experienced a number of setbacks. He was denied research funds, summer student assistance, and approval for conference participation. His research group was disbanded, he was assigned to work under a scientist who was junior to him in experience, he was denied a promotion and eventually his employment was terminated.

The Tribunal finds that there was a concerted effort by two persons in management, namely the directors Dr. H. Preston-Thomas and Dr. M. Laubitz, to thwart Dr. Grover’s career progression, and that Dr. Grover was the victim of differential treatment in a number of situations. It concludes that this treatment amounted to discrimination because of race and colour. The Tribunal also finds that National Research Council staff attempted to intimidate witnesses to deter them from testifying in the human rights hearing, and that these efforts amount to a breach of the Canadian Human Rights Act’s prohibition against retaliation and intimidation.

Grover himself was subjected to even more discrimination when he laid his original complaint, as the Tribunal noted:

In Dr. Chander Grover’s human rights complaint against the National Research Council (NRC), the discrimination did not stop when Dr. Grover filed his complaint. In fact, it seemed to get worse. In prescribing a remedy, one of the first things the tribunal ordered the NRC to do was to stop the discrimination against Dr. Grover. To ensure that such discrimination would not happen again, the tribunal ordered the NRC to consult with the Canadian Human Rights Commission for a thorough review of its human rights program and policy.

One would think that the NRC management would back off after that, but it didn’t. Grover laid three subsequent complaints, in 1991, 1992 and 1998, but lost all three before the Tribunal. Why? Because the NRC spent years in court trying to avoid a hearing: and, when at last they could put the hearings off no longer with their legal manoeuvrings—it was now 2009—the Tribunal dismissed them because of the length of time that had elapsed!

The unrelenting racist persecution took its toll:

In 2004, Grover -then on parttime sick leave -was barred from work for 14 months for refusing to undergo an exam by a doctor chosen by the NRC. In December 2005, a federal labour board ordered the NRC to reinstate and compensate him, a decision later upheld by the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal.

…Health Canada doctors assessed Grover in 2007. They recommended a gradual return to work with assignment to outside projects. But, [Grover’s lawyer Paul]Champ said, the NRC “flatly refused” the Health Canada recommendation and terminated Grover instead.

His fifth complaint followed. A lawsuit, filed in 2002, is still on-going.

In the intervening period, the NRC sleazily tried to turn the tables on Grover. It encouraged another scientist to launch a complaint against him for racial discrimination, and got the NRC itself named as a co-respondent. It then promptly settled, leaving Grover infuriated that he couldn’t defend himself against the complaint.

Here’s the flavour of that episode:

“I am disappointed and upset, yes, because I have been deprived of the opportunity to tell my side of the story,” said Grover, who has repeatedly battled the agency in human rights tribunals and courtrooms since 1987.

“The NRC does not want the evidence to come out and be discussed in the open before an independent body. They want everything to be done on an internal basis.”

Natalie Hall, an NRC spokeswoman, said the agency “cannot disclose the terms of the settlement because they are confidential.” She refused any further comment on the case.

,,.Grover said he had been looking forward to the public hearing on Zhou’s complaint so he could vindicate himself and expose the NRC’s role in the affair.

Zhou, in his statement to the tribunal, has admitted that the NRC encouraged him to launch harassment and human rights complaints against Grover in 2004.

…Grover contends that while he was on sick leave, in March 2004, the NRC canvassed people in the groups he supervised to find someone with a complaint about him. “Zhou was the only one who took the bait,” he alleges.

…The NRC hired an investigator to probe Zhou’s harassment allegations and, in September, a final report found most of his complaints were justified.

Grover said he was never interviewed by that investigator.

There was no substance to any of Zhou’s allegations, insists Grover, who planned to present more than 1,200 pages of e-mail correspondence to demonstrate that his relationship with Zhou had been positive and constructive.

Grover also intended to file his annual performance reviews, which regularly praised Zhou’s work.

He dismissed as “ridiculous” the allegation that he hired Chinese scientists because they could be more easily dominated.

I hope that readers are left with the same feeling of nausea that I was when I read about that oh-so-clever little move.

Over nearly a quarter-century, the federal government has spent literally millions of dollars of our money—one source claims $60 million in all—to defend the discriminators. $2 million has been forked over to a senior lawyer retained by the NRC in 2004.

Mediation, unsurprisingly, failed last Thursday to settle the fifth complaint and the lawsuit.

Grover’s epic 24-year battle for justice continues. And the government of the day is evidently still committed to defending overtly racist behaviour in its workplaces.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on March 12, 2011 3:45 PM.

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