It’s an atmosphere that has been described as poisonous. A department where the director is accused of harassing, bullying and belittling a long-time employee who, as a result, is now absent from the workplace on stress leave.
A situation where an individual charged with the financial welfare of a $110 million corporation is in flagrant and repeated violation of that organization’s respect in the workplace policy
What is shocking is the venue – the treasury department at city hall – and the actions of city treasurer Bill Day have put CAO Wendell Graves and human resources director Graham Dart between a rock and a hard place.
And, no matter what action they deem necessary, it could cost St. Thomas ratepayers dearly.
Over the past two weeks, we have alluded to the shameful actions that have thrust the treasury department into the spotlight, as was the case ten years ago when accusations of sexual harassment led to the dismissal of then treasurer Ron Cutway.
So, what is being done to resolve the situation and lead to a return to the workplace of a valued and trusted employee, in light of the findings of a third-party investigation that has identified serious issues.
We talked to Dart at length on Thursday and he confirmed – since it is a department head who has contravened the city’s workplace policy – that “discussions would be between Wendell and myself about corrective action, if it is decided it needs to be done.”
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the third party investigation has urged a course of action be taken to encourage a healthy workplace for every staffer in every department.
“Stress leave is one of the most difficult things to deal with,” Dart admitted. “The buzz out there in the workplace today is all about stress. It’s really an individual and personal thing.
“You could make all the corrections in the world and if the employee is still not comfortable with those adjustments, then that employee says to their doctor ‘I’m really not sleeping at night because of the fear of going back to the workplace’ and a doctor will say ‘then maybe we need a little more time’.”
Dart went on to add, “If two employees aren’t getting along we will try to limit the interaction between those two employees.
“We want people back at work and doing what they are supposed to be doing and doing it in an environment they are entitled to.”
So, what is to be done in this case?
Remove the irritant? That will come with a hefty buy-out.
Ignore the situation or fail to provide an environment in which the employee feels they will be respected and valued – and is willing to return from stress leave – and the city certainly will face legal action.
Clearly the two individuals cannot function to their full potential given the present circumstances and the solution is nowhere as simple as limiting the interaction.
The city is in deep on this one.
Last week we reported St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital vice-president Malcolm Hopkins saw his salary jump $38,000 in 2012 and this week we learn eight good jobs are soon to be eliminated as a cost-saving measure.
We’ll elaborate next week on the absolutely head-spinning explanation for Hopkins’ meteoric salary increase that was forwarded to us by Marianne Campbell , the executive assistant to president and CEO Paul Collins.
I would suggest tracking down a good dictionary and Google ‘corporate bafflegab’ to familiarize yourself with what’s in store.
We’re not kidding.
In the meantime, the hospital is outsourcing its transcription services to an Ottawa-based firm, resulting in the termination of four full-time and four part-time positions in the medical records department.
Another eight loyal and hard-working staffers deemed expendable by an administration that has no qualms jetting off to Singapore, the U.K., Florida, Las Vegas and now we hear Texas, whenever the whim strikes.
The transcription service will now be performed by individuals in the comfort of their own home at about half the wages.
And we’re talking about your private medical records.
Isn’t that a comfort as you await your diagnosis or the results of a biopsy.
All of this in a week when letters were being mailed to hundreds of cancer patients given diluted doses of chemotherapy drugs.
The preparation of such drugs is another service outsourced by some hospitals because it is supposedly more practical and efficient.
A sad state of affairs when getting sick can be so dangerous to your health.
A SNAP VOTE
Ald. Mark Cosens will file a notice of motion Monday that council “build a new, modern, state-of-the-art police facility” on city-owned property at the Timken Centre.
A change of heart on the part of Cosens who, in the past, has been adamantly opposed to such a move?
Who are you kidding.
Cosens needs the vote of Ald. Sam Yusuf – whose final council meeting will be the night this motion is voted on – in order to defeat the resolution and close the books on a new police HQ for years to come.
Without full disclosure on all of the facts and environmental assessments Cosens and Ald. Jeff Kohler insisted are necessary before any decision is made.
Of course Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands has to be heard from as well. Or can she rationalize the wisdom of a snap vote?
Politics really can be a sleazy business.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Its sad for me to see that old store closed, I can remember as a young child of about 5 or 6, in my Dad’s green & white Chev van, waiting for my mom to come out from working at Kmart, or all the times my grand mother took me Dollar Days shopping.”
Reader Dan DeAthe reminisces about the St. Thomas Zellers store at a time when it was a popular destination.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.