A few days after a federal judge ruled a local construction company cannot evict its workers because they have health issues, another local company has filed suit.
The plaintiffs say the federal government has overstepped its authority and that the company was being unfairly targeted.
The company, Peacock Construction Inc., is suing the federal Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) program for allowing the company to be evicted from its land.
The OHS program allows employers to evict workers who are deemed unsafe to work on a project, but it does not allow employers to forcibly remove them from their homes.
A federal judge struck down that section of the OHS regulations in January, saying the rules do not apply to Peacocks construction workers.
However, the lawsuit is the latest in a string of challenges to the OH program.
In July, a federal appeals court ruled the OHP program was not the same as a labour dispute settlement.
In August, a judge ruled that the program is not constitutional because it does little to stop workplace disputes.
“The OHS has been a source of tension and conflict for decades in Canada, and that’s just not going to change,” said Sarah Smith, the lawyer representing the Peacocking Construction workers.
Smith said the company is also concerned about the OHR policy that prevents workers from being able to file a grievance.
She said the OHT program is the only thing preventing the company from evicting workers.
The lawsuit says that while Peacocker is allowed to evict the workers, the company has failed to abide by the requirements to evict them.
Smith says she has been trying to get a court to take Peacocked off its land for more than two years.
Smith has not heard back from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency that investigates workplace complaints, and the court has not been able to reach a decision about PeacOCK’s status.
The case is currently before the Ontario Court of Appeal.
In the lawsuit, the workers say the company’s actions have been unreasonable.
“It’s been quite a difficult journey,” said one of the workers.
“We’ve had a lot of things happen in the last six months.”
Smith said she has had a number of lawyers contact her to try to resolve the case, but none of them have been able.
The workers are asking the OHL and OSHA to intervene to help them, and for Peacook to pay them for their medical bills.
The court will hear the case in February.
Smith’s team has spent years researching the legal implications of the Peecock case.
“One of the things that we’ve found is that the Occupation Health and Human Services Act does not provide for the kind of protection that the OHD program does,” she said.
Smith noted that the government has not yet implemented a labour contract with Peacok, the construction company, and has not provided a way for Peecok to enforce its workers’ health and safety obligations.
The Occupational Workers Union of Canada says the court should not allow Peacoks eviction to go forward.
“This court should ensure that Peacooks property is not evicted,” said Joe Sowden, president of the union.
“Our members are working hard to keep PeacKoks land and equipment and equipment in working order and are being evicted at a time when Peacoks workers are being threatened by Peacoku construction workers.”
The OHL says it will not be able to address the eviction unless Peackos property is returned.
In an emailed statement, OSHA says it is not aware of any cases in which a construction company has been forced to remove workers from their home without a labour agreement.
The agency says that workers who do not have a valid labour agreement are entitled to be granted a hearing and a determination of whether to evict a company.
The worker who lives with Pecock, who requested his name not be used, said he has no idea why the company would be evading its obligations to the workers and is concerned the company may be attempting to retaliate.
“I think this is the worst situation that I’ve ever seen,” he said.
The man, who said he is on disability, said Peacoker should not be allowed to continue to build on his land.
“They’ve been working hard for the past 20 years.
This is not fair,” he told CBC News.