City be­gins crack­down on ha­rass­ment in its work­force

StarMetro Halifax - - HALIFAX -

Hal­i­fax says it’s tak­ing new mea­sures amid mount­ing claims of both his­tor­i­cal and on­go­ing racial ha­rass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion within the mu­nic­i­pal work­force.

Jac­ques Dubé, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer of the Hal­i­fax Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, says the city will be en­gag­ing an ex­ter­nal con­sul­tant within 75 days to re­view the city’s ap­proach on racial ha­rass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

He says Hal­i­fax will also be im­ple­ment­ing a con­fi­den­tial em­ployee hot­line by mid-july for em­ploy­ees who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ha­rass­ment but feel un­com­fort­able go­ing to their su­per­vi­sor or hu­man re­sources to re­port it.

His com­ments come in the wake of a Nova Sco­tia Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion board of in­quiry de­ci­sion that found a city bus me­chanic was sub­jected to a poi­sonous work en­vi­ron­ment rid­dled with unchecked racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and ha­rass­ment.

The for­mer Hal­i­fax tran­sit worker is seek­ing more than $1.4 mil­lion in gen­eral da­m­ages, lost earn­ings and pen­sion.

Dubé says while the case con­cerns in­ci­dents that took place years ago, it is an im­por­tant re­minder that all em­ploy­ees de­serve to be treated with dig­nity and re­spect.

“Is­sues of racial ha­rass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion ex­ist in our so­ci­ety and the HRM work­place is not im­mune,” he said Mon­day.

The se­nior bu­reau­crat said Hal­i­fax has long rec­og­nized that on­go­ing ef­forts to im­prove the work­place en­vi­ron­ment are crit­i­cal for both res­i­dents and city staff.

“I pledge that this im­por­tant work will con­tinue and that new mea­sures will also be taken to ad­dress the se­ri­ous is­sues of racism, dis­crim­i­na­tion and ha­rass­ment within our or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Dubé said. “We re­main un­wa­ver­ing in our com­mit­ment to con­tin­u­ously im­prov­ing our poli­cies, prac­tices and work­place cul­ture.”

Dubé said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has taken a num­ber of steps to erad­i­cate racism at city hall, in­clud­ing up­dat­ing cor­po­rate di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion train­ing — now manda­tory for all su­per­vi­sors and as­pir­ing lead­ers. En­gag­ing with the African Nova Sco­tian com­mu­nity at thes­­i­fax


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