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