Cornwall Ontario – The easiest way to explain what happens to WHISTLEBLOWERS is to use few examples from my case, but this could have happened to anyone, your mother, father, daughter or son.
There are multiple documents/books which give a template to shut down Whistleblowers.
Step 1: Deny everything. In my case I was told by the HR Manager I didn’t understand legislation and internal policies which identified “ZERO” tolerance for abuse. Legislation and policies, I had taught many times over the years to GSDL staff n orientation. Interesting enough I always taught that “0” tolerance meant just that, we do not tolerate abuse in any form.
Step 2: Delay any legal process, in my case the City’s unlimited tax base provided them with the ability to delay for years. This began after my termination in 2009. I was very ill by this time and their written offer to me was to top up my LTD for 1 year. Being aware of previous settlements from working in HR this was no more than yet another form of retaliation given I had 18 years of service. The HR Manager informed the staff of my termination the day he sent me a registered letter. One member stated that I would fight this with the Managers response that I was too sick to fight anything. Fortunate for me I didn’t have to be healthy to respond, I just needed a good lawyer.
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Step 3: Divide the employee from as many co-workers, friends and family as possible. In my case, the weekend I was terminated a memo only signed Laura was delivered to multiple people including the union presidents. I only became aware of it months later when one of those presidents emailed to me.
It had many derogatory comments related to the HR department. Once I reviewed it I was aware of some of the issues, but others I had no knowledge of. This memo was given to HR staff prior to my return in early 2010 and it was inferred that I wrote it. Unfortunately, I don’t think my coworkers knew what to think. To this day I am unaware of who wrote it other than they had been working for the City longer than me. I should also mention that once this memo was given to the City they settled within two months.
Step 4: Discredit the Whistleblower in every way possible. In my case I think I may have frustrated the City since I led a quiet life. In 2012 I file a complaint and Judith Allen was hired to do an investigation. Throughout her investigation I was accused of taking too many breaks which some truth to it may have given I was being harassed almost daily by multiple people.
They also said I had a vendetta against the GSDL Administrator because we had competed for a position 30 years earlier with her being awarded it even though I had seniority. We were good friends in those days and I have no idea what they were talking about? Also, they stated that according to the GSDL Administrator my ex husband had an affair related to one of her relatives. Again, not aware of this so I called and emailed him, and he denied it. The levels they can stoop are unimaginable.
All this information was forwarded to Ms. Allen, but it was apparent that she was not interested in anything I had to say. These issues only came up after my 8-hr. interview with her and long before she interviewed the GSDL Administrator who refused to be interviewed for months and only agreed to a telephone interview after most of the interviews were done. I believe it was probably a condition of her settlement since she was a no show at the Ministry trial.
Next week we can discuss How to protect yourself from retaliation.