Alleged Workplace Harassment in the RCMP

Top RCMP Commissioner, William Elliott, is the latest potential subject of workplace harassment complaints. Almost a dozen top officials in the force approached the Prime Minister’s Office with accusations against Elliott which included verbal abuse, insulting treatment and a generally “abrasive” management style.

Although the allegations only recently surfaced in the public domain, one source reports that Elliott received repeated admonitions by senior colleagues following his heated exchanges with other officers. The RCMP had also spent over $44,000.00 last year to send Elliott on three days of “executive coaching”. In Elliott’s own words regarding the training: “I learned that my actions can and did have unintended, sometimes negative impacts.”

How Is the Matter Being Handled?

Although the complaining officials were chastised for using the media “to air their internal disputes”, the matter has resulted in an Order by the Clerk of the Privy Council for an independent assessment of the RCMP workplace. But as Public Safety Minister Vic Toews calls the affair an “internal HR matter”, the results of the investigation will not be made public.

Points to Note

Incidents and allegations of workplace harassment can result in damaging and costly consequences for employers, both private and public. Employers are well-advised to ensure the implementation and enforcement of policies and procedures to prevent harm to both themselves and their employees.

Given the creation of Bill 168, employers must now be even more diligent in ensuring that policies regarding harassment and violence in the workplace are properly drafted, implemented and enforced. Doing so will help to avoid costly sanctions from the Ministry of Labour including fines of up to $500,000.00 and imprisonment of up to 12 months, as well as potential litigation.

Minken Employment Lawyers is your source for expert advice and advocacy on today’s employment law issues.

Source material for this blog: The Toronto Star (Revolt in senior ranks spurs probe of RCMP chief, by Tonda MacCharles, July 27 2010) and National Post.

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