Former National Research Council physicist Chander Grover will be returning to court later this year after the federal government rejected his bid to end 25 years of human rights litigation.
Grover, 69, who recently underwent cancer treatments, has made repeated overtures to federal lawyers in an attempt to close one outstanding lawsuit. But the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement about how to end the epic legal battle, which is scheduled to resume in July.
Since 2004, the governm, harassent has spent more than $1 million on outside legal help and consultants to deal with Grover, the former director of the NRC’s optics division.
Grover was effectively fired by the NRC in July 2007. It was the culmination of his 26-year career at Canada’s leading scientific research institution — a career marked by human rights abuses and management conflicts.
In an interview Friday, Grover said he does not have the strength or money to continue a lawsuit that has no end in sight.
The lawsuit, a Charter case in which he claims damages for alleged breaches of his equality rights, was launched in 2002. Ten years later, it remains mired in pre-trial motions.
“I want closure,” said Grover, who estimates that he has spent $250,000 doing legal battle with the NRC.
“It’s like throwing money into a well: I don’t see any kind of conclusion coming as a result of the court action ... This is insane that the case has to go for such a long time.”
Grover has made repeated attempts to end the case in response to a Jan. 23 letter from federal lawyer Sanderson Graham, who said the NRC would not seek legal costs against him if he filed a notice of discontinuance.
The NRC subsequently demanded that Grover concede in writing that the government had provided a “complete defence” to the lawsuit.
Grover initially balked at that idea — he considered it untrue — but later offered a compromise to address the government’s concern about him launching a future case.
To that end, Grover agreed that the discontinuance would form a defence to any action launched on the same set of facts.
But it hasn’t been enough to satisfy the NRC. Spokesman Jonathon Ward said the NRC “considers it has been left with no alternative but to move forward to address his outstanding civil action in the courts.” He would not discuss the settlement negotiations with Grover.
In July, an Ontario Superior Court judge will hear the government’s appeal of a decision denying its motion to strike allegations from Grover’s lawsuit.
In 2009, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Grover’s three outstanding complaints were so old that the NRC could no longer make a full defence to them.
Based on that ruling, the government asked the court to throw out the same allegations from Grover’s civil suit.
The court, however, dismissed that motion last June.
For his part, Grover said he “doesn’t feel good” about heading back to court. “What point does the appeal make?” he says. “They are simply abusing the trust and money at their disposal.”
An Indian-born scientist with a doctorate in physics, Grover won a landmark human rights case against the NRC in 1992. The human rights tribunal said NRC managers in Ottawa thwarted his advancement, humiliated him and unfairly fired him.
The tribunal ordered the NRC to appoint Grover to a senior post and pay him lost wages.
Grover would file four more human rights complaints against the NRC, which repeatedly tried to discipline him for insubordination. The NRC claimed Grover interpreted every attempt to manage him as a discriminatory act.