Next week marks a return-to-work for a London city employee who has been off on stress leave for more than three months, and her boyfriend says she’s “scared to death.”
Jim, who doesn’t want his last name to be used on the condition of anonymity for his partner, called into 980 CFPL’s the Craig Needles Show Wednesday morning.
Overcome with emotion, he alleged that his girlfriend has been bullied, harassed, and ridiculed at work.
“The poor woman has been knocked down so low, you can’t fall any farther than the floor,” he explained, his voice cracking. “I’m sorry, but I’m so upset about this. These people at city hall let this happen.”
Jim, who said he had his girlfriend’s consent to discuss her situation, told 980 CFPL that she’d worked at city hall for more than thirty years in various departments. Over the past three years, he said she’s been asked to do work outside her job description, and has been criticized for refusing the work or asking for compensation.
He said she’s been told she’s doing a bad job, but that no complaints have been lodged against her; that she’s been asked to work through her lunch, for which she isn’t paid; and that she’s been excluded from social office activities.
He said she’s been asked to provide extra doctors notes while she’s been off, and that there’s no response from the city when those notes are provided.
“I’ve seen it first-hand. I’ve seen her come home in tears,” he explained.
“She has ex-bosses that still take her out for lunch, what does that say about that person? And now, she’s working with a bunch of people and her bosses ridicule, bully, harass, all of it.”
Although Jim said she hasn’t filed a formal harassment complaint, she has spoken with her union and directly with city manager Martin Hayward.
“I want to see a third party brought in,” he explained.
For Ward 13 Coun. Tanya Park, that third party would be a firm with expertise in changing culture inside an organization.
“What we need to do is really root out the causes of the cultural toxicity in the city of London,” she explained.
She’s bringing forward a motion at the corporate services committee to hire an independent firm, with an endgame of making workers feel safe, and making workers feel heard.
After nearly 2.5 hours behind closed doors Monday, councillors didn’t offer any information about the “personal matter,” they were discussing. Megan Walker, the executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre then alleged a group of 29 people had approached her with complaints from inside the city hall.
She also wrote on Twitter that Mayor Matt Brown received at least four letters about harassment within the walls of city hall.
Park is asking that those letters be given to councillors, and says it’s an issue that 29 individuals didn’t feel like existing harassment reporting mechanisms were working for them.
“They went to an external organization so they could carve a path so they could feel heard. That is a huge problem.”