The city’s chief administrative officer has
“As CAO, I should have known better and not assumed that I had permission to communicate about a matter unrelated to work,” writes Jacques Dubé, in an
Dubé writes in his email (pasted in full below) that he sent the text “absent of any context or regard for how it could be received.” Whitewood subsequently filed a harassment complaint about the message, which contained several violent passages.
The CFO did not respond to a request for comment on today's emailed message, but Dubé defended Whitewood’s response to city staff.
“It’s not a complainant’s fault that they feel harassed and they should not be blamed in any manner for coming forward and looking to our harassment policy for a solution,” Dubé writes. “Just the opposite, HRM must support complainants and treat all complaints seriously.”
As previously reported by The Coast, Dubé took a two-week leave from city hall in March while council discussed how to respond to the complaint. According to Dubé, an independent investigator who was brought in determined that while the text was in breach of employee policy, the “incident was isolated and no harm was intended.”
Mayor Mike Savage and individual councillors have all so far refused to comment on the personnel matter, with Dartmouth South–Eastern Passage representative Bill Karsten yelling at reporters last week that “You embarrass yourself for even talking about it.”
Breton Murphy, manager of public affairs for HRM, says the CAO is not taking media interviews and city hall won’t be providing any other comment, “as this is a personnel matter.”
The Coast has previously been told by a source with knowledge of the matter that as many as three senior managers at HRM have taken issue with Dubé’s management of female staff since he was hired last September.
The same source suggested last week that if Dubé wasn’t fired, the municipality could be facing a discrimination lawsuit. It remains to be seen if today's statements from the CAO will do anything to quell those tensions.
“I should have thought about what I was doing before I pressed ‘send,’” Dubé writes.
“I didn’t think about the feelings of my colleague and I will always regret it. For
“Dear Fellow HRM employees:
“I want to take this opportunity to address a harassment complaint made against me by another HRM employee. I owe you an honest assessment of this situation and not only how I have learned, but how we can all learn from what happened.
“In my case, I amended and
“A complaint was filed and a thorough process
“First, the HRM Workplace Harassment policy does work and it will be applied in every circumstance including those affecting the most senior members of the
“Second, people do not react to situations in the same way. It’s not a complainant’s fault that they feel harassed and they should not be blamed in any manner for coming forward and looking to our harassment policy for a solution. Just the opposite, HRM must support complainants and treat all complaints seriously.
“Third, our workplace harassment policy is designed to ensure the confidentiality of the harassment complaint process and the privacy of the individuals involved. Clearly, it is disappointing that some of that confidentiality was compromised in this case but we must persevere toward building a workplace free from harassment in all its forms.
“Finally, I would urge each employee to reflect on their personal conduct in the workplace and whether another employee could, in any way, interpret that conduct as harassing. If so, change your conduct. Be kind, generous and considerate of your colleagues.
“If you are being subjected to inappropriate behaviour in our workplace, please contact your Manager or Human Resources. For ease of reference our Workplace Rights Harassment Prevention Policy is available here: \Documents\WorkplaceRightsHarassmentPreventionPolicy004.pdf You have my promise that I will be an advocate for a workplace free of harassment for all of our employees.
“I urge you all to learn from my experience as I did.
“Sincerely, Jacques Dubé”