3 Moose Jaw councillors sued for allegedly ‘suppressing sexual harassment’ complaints

From left to right: Moose Jaw city councilors, Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Crystal Froese. The three councilors are being sued by a former city employee. Photos courtesy of City of Moose Jaw

Three Moose Jaw city councillors have been sued by a former city employee who says he was fired after investigating sexual harassment allegations at Mosaic Place.

Graham Edge, former general manager of Mosaic Place, filed the lawsuit against the councillors on April 14 at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Moose Jaw. He is suing for wrongful dismissal, damages and lawyer fees.

The statement of claim accuses councillors Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Crystal Froese of “attempting to suppress rampant verbal and sexual harassment in the workplace.”

The Downtown Facility and Field House (DFFH) board — on which they all formerly sat and which oversaw operations at Mosaic Place — is also named in the suit, as is the former CEO of Mosaic Place, Ted Schaeffer.

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Edge says he was fired months after investigating sexual harassment complaints made by eight women who were employed by the city.

The first complaint came days after Edge became the new general manager of Mosaic Place in January 2018.

According to the statement of claim, an employee told Edge she was “verbally and sexually harassed by Myles Fister,” who was director of facility operations at Mosaic Place.

This prompted Edge to conduct an internal investigation, of which he notified the city’s human resources department.

Between Jan. 19, 2018, and Feb. 2, 2018, Edge and “DFFH’s finance manager, Jamie Ansell, became aware of allegations of verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse perpetrated by Myles against other staff members,” says the lawsuit.

In total, the suit says Edge spoke to eight women throughout his investigation.

He says he presented his findings to the DFFH board, which included Swanson, who was chair of the board, McMann, Froese and Schaffer.

In the lawsuit, Edge says he recommended to the board that Myles be terminated and that his behaviour be reported to the Moose Jaw Police Service.

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“The board was split, but ultimately, no action was taken against Myles and the board discouraged the plaintiff from reporting Myles to Moose Jaw Police Service,” says the statement of claim.

“Councillor Brian Swanson vehemently objected to the termination of, or indeed any action against, Myles, and suggested giving him another chance,” says the suit, which also claims Swanson was close friends with Myles.

According to the lawsuit, no minutes were taken at the meeting and no formal vote regarding Myles’ termination was recorded.

Myles, who deleted his social media accounts when the allegations against him first surfaced in 2018, could not be reached for comment. A phone number associated with a Myles Fister in Moose Jaw appears to be disconnected.

The lawsuit goes on to say Edge spent months following his investigation continuing “to raise the issue with the board members in the hopes of finding a solution” while Ansell and other employees “impugned” Edge’s character.

After just four months as GM of Mosaic Place, Edge was terminated for “incompatibility with staff.”

Following his termination, the city of Moose Jaw hired a third-party investigator, a former RCMP member, to investigate the sexual harassment allegations.

As a result, the DFFH board was permanently dissolved, Fister was fired and sanctions were placed on councillors Swanson, McMann and Froese for their “failure in their duty to deal with the serious DFFH personnel matter,” according to the city’s investigation.

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The city’s investigation also launched a campaign by the community calling for the removal of Swanson from council.

Read more: 3 Moose Jaw city councillors sanctioned following third-party investigation

Swanson, who has denied wrongdoing since the allegations surfaced in 2018, and Froese did not respond to a request for comment. McMann, Edge and city administration declined to comment at this time. Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie did not respond to a request for comment.

Schaeffer had quit prior to the third-party investigation. He too did not respond to a request for comment.

Following the city’s third-party investigation, Edge claims in the lawsuit that he was threatened with litigation on behalf of the DFFH to remain silent.

The suit claims “the defendants failed to rehabilitate the plaintiff’s character by acknowledging his proper response to the complaints and providing him with an appropriate remedy with respect to his termination despite the recognition of a pattern of bullying, threats, rampant verbal and sexual harassment, and nepotism occurring within the DFFH atmosphere.”

Edge accuses the councillors of “taking discriminatory action against him by terminating him for reporting verbal and sexual harassment by an abusive employee.”

In addition to suing for loss of wages, Edge is seeking damages for loss of pension, damages for “irreparable harm” to his reputation, punitive damages for suppressing verbal and sexual harassment in the workplace, and aggravated damages for the “harsh, vindictive and malicious” treatment toward him following his termination.

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Statements of defence have yet to be filed.

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Three of six Moose Jaw city councillors sanctioned – Sep 25, 2018

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