Toxic Work Environment

The following was e-mailed to us by someone who wishes to remain anonymous.


This probably isn’t exactly what your site is intended for, but I’d like the word to get out about a situation that keeps getting repeated. I am an employee of the City of Ottawa. I am a woman working in a “man’s” field. In my department, the city is doing little to protect women from harassment in the workplace. Unless you have undeniable proof of harassment, you don’t have a leg to stand on. If you are accused of wrong doing, workplace policy states that you are not allowed to know who your accuser is. Then, when proven innocent of the accusation, your are not allowed to know if the accuser is being disciplined and/or what the disciplinary action is.
One male employee was known to have harassed female employees on a number of occasions over the years. Then, a few years ago, three women filed separate harassment complaints against him. None of the women were involved in any way in each others situations.
What happened? Well, the women were told it was a first offence because previous managers had not put prior complaints on paper. It doesn’t matter that a¬†Human Rights Tribunal judge states that an employer should investigate each and every instance of harassment they learn of, whenever they learn of it.
So. if I may, I’d like to request that the women of Ottawa file complaints with the city if they are harassed by a city employee. Harassers are very much the minority amongst city employees, but there are still too many. The city has a fairly specific “Code of Conduct.” It says that employees must treat others, this includes non-employees, with respect and dignity.
All city owned vehicles have identification codes/numbers on them. Using the code rather than a license plate number speeds up the identification of the perpetrators. The “code” starts with a capital letter, followed by a single digit, then a dash, followed by,usually, four digits. A description of the harassor helps, since some vehicles are occupied by more than one person.

2 responses to “Toxic Work Environment

  1. This is a late response, but I’ve only just found Ottawa’s Hollaback. I was a City of Ottawa employee when I was in high school, working at an arena close to the school. There was the usual sexist garbage associated with working in an old boys’ club (most memorably, one late 30’s guy telling me how wearing my hair in braids made him “want a ride”…charming) and then there was Gerry, who went above and beyond, sticking his finger in my pants when I tore a hole in them, backing another young female employee up against the Zamboni, etc. There were three of us who submitted complaints, all working at the same arena, all under 18. Our supervisor told us there was “no need” to involve the police or our parents during the “mediation” process. Our coworkers all seemed to be of the mind that this is what happens when you hire girls. And then of course during the process we found out that this man had numerous other complaints from female staff at the other arenas he’d worked at. And so the City in all its wisdom transferred him to an arena where he’d be working solely one on one shifts with teenage girls. He was fired, and I quit shortly thereafter.

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