Fired city employees claim double-standard in harassment complaint

Licensing managers fired for harassing employee but city councillor not disciplined
|employmentlawtoday.com

Three former licensing managers for the City of Hamilton have requested a judicial review of their firings over their involvement in the alleged harassment of another city employee.

Tom Redmond, Randy Charlton and Susan McGrath were all accused of harassing a city inspector in 2004 after tempers flared during a licensing dispute. City councillor Bernie Morelli was also implicated in the harassment and accused of bullying and personally harassing the inspector during a heated argument. The inspector claimed Morelli, chair of Hamilton’s police services board, made “threats of reprisal by police” against him.

In February 2007, an independent investigator found Morelli and the three city managers had harassed the inspector. The investigator advised Morelli should receive one-on-one sensitivity training but city council voted to give all councillors a course on the city’s code of conduct and not single out Morelli.

Redmond, Charlton and McGrath said they were innocent, but were fired over the harassment complaint. They claim the city used a double-standard for Morelli by using the principle of “reasonable doubt”, usually used in criminal matters, in his case while using “balance of probability,” the standard in most civil and tribunal matters, to decide Redmond, Charlton and McGrath’s case.

The city argued Morelli was investigated by city council and the managers were investigated by their superiors in the city office and there couldn’t be a double-standard with two separate investigations.

Redmond and Charlton will have their case heard by an arbitrator but McGrath will not as she was a probationary employee.

While many agree the city’s use of “balance of probability” was appropriate in investigating the fired managers, if it’s determined it used a double-standard in dealing with Morelli it could be open to legal action.

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