Sur­vey finds few sex ha­rass­ment cases

The Expositor (Brantford) - - NEWS - SU­SAN GAM­BLE EXPOSITOR STAFF SGam­ble@post­media.com

The Brant Com­mu­nity Health­care Sys­tem has dealt with four sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaints in the past four years, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion compiled by The Expositor.

And three of the four cases re­sulted in find­ings of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour, said a spokes­woman for BCHS, which has 1,446 em­ploy­ees.

“One of the cases re­mained un­sub­stan­ti­ated.”

The spokes­woman said that the “un­sub­stan­ti­ated” case in­volves a com­plaint made well af­ter the in­ci­dent and the al­leged ha­rasser was no longer work­ing at the BCHS.

The BCHS, which op­er­ates Brant­ford Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal and the Willett ur­gent care clinic in Paris, took “ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tions” in all the cases, said the spokes­woman, adding that de­tails can­not be made pub­lic.

But she said that no law­suits have been launched due to sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaints and no com­plainants have re­ceived pay­ments di­rectly or through the court sys­tem.

The BCHS was one of sev­eral lo­cal pub­licly funded bodies sur­veyed by The Expositor in light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp move­ments.

In ad­di­tion to the hos­pi­tal sys­tem, in­quiries were sent to the City of Brant­ford, County of Brant, the health unit, the pub­lic and Catholic school boards, and the city and county po­lice ser­vices.

The Expositor sought in­for­ma­tion about the for­mal pol­icy for han­dling sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaints in the work­force, how many such com­plaints were re­ceived and what the re­sults were.

The Expositor also asked if, over the last five years, money was paid out to com­plainants, law­suits were launched or law­suits were re­solved.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­sponses re­ceived, a com­bined 11 com­plaints of sex­ual ha­rass­ment have been ad­dressed over the last five years. All but one or­ga­ni­za­tion — Brant County OPP — an­swered with­out go­ing through the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion process.

Here’s what The Expositor learned:

City of Brant­ford

Maria Visoc­chi, Brant­ford’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, pro­vided the city’s code of con­duct. Over the past five years, the city, which has 1,075 full-time equiv­a­lent work­ers, has had four com­plaints through its hu­man re­source de­part­ment, she said.

Each com­plaint was “thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated and none re­sulted in le­gal ac­tion,” she said.

Visoc­chi said the city wouldn’t dis­close the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions but noted the city never pays com­plainants un­less there’s le­gal ac­tion taken.

Grand Erie District School Board

The pub­lic school board, which has 2,851 em­ploy­ees, pro­vided a web­site link to its pol­icy for han­dling sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaints.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Kim­berly Ne­w­house said, in the last five years, there has been one sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaint, which didn’t spark an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ne­w­house said none of the other ques­tions – about dis­ci­pline de­ci­sions, pay­ments or law­suits — ap­plied to the board.

County of Brant

A full work­place ha­rass­ment pol­icy and pro­ce­dure for the County of Brant, which has 224 full-time and 205 part-time and ca­sual work­ers. was pro­vided to The Expositor, along with the in­for­ma­tion that the county’s hu­man re­source divi­sion has dealt with two com­plaints of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Each com­plaint was in­ves­ti­gated and con­firmed as ha­rass­ment.

“Both re­spon­dents were dis­ci­plined as a re­sult of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said Cindy Steven­son, di­rec­tor of hu­man re­sources.

Steven­son added that the county has made no pay­ments to com­plainants, ei­ther di­rectly or through the court sys­tem, and there have been no law­suits in the last five years due to sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

Brant County Health Unit

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser Court­ney Wester­hof said the health unit, which has 108 em­ploy­ees, has an anti-ha­rass­ment/bul­ly­ing pol­icy and pro­ce­dure in place that cov­ers sex­ual ha­rass­ment that in­cludes a pro­ce­dure for staff to fol­low if they feel like they’ve been ha­rassed.

Staff do on­line train­ing when they are hired and re­view the train­ing an­nu­ally.

“Af­ter re­view­ing our records, we have not re­ceived any sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaints in the last five years. We’ve had no law­suits due to sex­ual ha­rass­ment claims in the last five years,” Wester­hof said.

Brant-Haldimand-Nor­folk Catholic District School Board

The Catholic school board, which has 1,077 full-time equiv­a­lent work­ers, pro­vided a pub­lic link to its ha­rass­ment pol­icy, which is posted on its web­site.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Tracey Austin said the board had no sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaints in the last five years, mean­ing none of The Expositor’s other ques­tions ap­plied.

Brant­ford Po­lice Ser­vice

Insp. Scott Wil­liams said the right to work in an en­vi­ron­ment free from ha­rass­ment or vi­o­lence is en­shrined in the ser­vice’s ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence in the work­place pol­icy.

Wil­liams said the ser­vice, which has 260 full-time equiv­a­lent work­ers, wouldn’t make that pol­icy pub­lic nor dis­close de­tails about any in­ter­nal hu­man re­source mat­ters.

But he added all ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions are taken se­ri­ously and in­ves­ti­gated.

“No in­ves­ti­ga­tions of work­place sex­ual ha­rass­ment have been un­der­taken within the time pe­riod (five years) you re­quested.”

Brant County OPP

Act­ing Sgt. Ken John­ston said the OPP, as mem­bers of the On­tario pub­lic ser­vice, must op­er­ate un­der pro­vin­cial govern­ment guide­lines, It took two months of prob­ing to learn the ser­vice has a num­ber of pro­grams in place that guide em­ploy­ees through en­sur­ing a re­spect­ful work­place and over­see­ing pro­fes­sional stan­dards.

The Brant OPP has 63 em­ploy­ees.

John­ston said he is aware of no sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­plaints re­ceived by the OPP but sug­gested The Expositor would have to ap­ply for the in­for­ma­tion un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act.

Three months af­ter fil­ing an FOI ap­pli­ca­tion, The Expositor got a re­sponse.

“The OPP have con­firmed there have been no com­plaints of sex­ual as­sault or sex­ual ha­rass­ment against of­fi­cers or em­ploy­ees of the Brant County de­tach­ment for the .. last five years.”

ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES

in light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp move­ments, The Expositor sought in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal cases of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

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