Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut June 20, 2016 - 7:00 am

GN employee dismissed after Nunavut ethics officer’s findings

Ethics officer investigated case of workplace sexual harassment spanning seven years

SARAH ROGERS
In one case of workplace wrongdoing ethics officer Jeffrey Schnoor investigated in 2015, he described incidents of sexual harassment directed at a woman employee over a period of seven years, which involved leering, wolf-whistles, “and, on at least one occasion, inappropriate touching.” (FILE PHOTO)
In one case of workplace wrongdoing ethics officer Jeffrey Schnoor investigated in 2015, he described incidents of sexual harassment directed at a woman employee over a period of seven years, which involved leering, wolf-whistles, “and, on at least one occasion, inappropriate touching.” (FILE PHOTO)

The Government of Nunavut says it has implemented recommendations made by the territory’s ethics officer following a 2015 case of wrongdoing in the workplace.

Nunavut’s ethics officer Jeffrey Schnoor received 11 disclosures from GN public servants in 2015 — his first full year of operating in the territory — which he outlined in an annual report tabled at the legislative assembly earlier this month.

Only one of those 11 complaints were upheld.

In that particular case, Schnoor described incidents of sexual harassment directed at a woman employee over a period of seven years, which involved leering, wolf-whistles, “and, on at least one occasion, inappropriate touching.”

Co-workers and witnesses interviewed during Schnoor’s investigation generally supported the woman’s allegations, the report found; the ethics officer also found evidence that other employees had made complaints about similar behaviour from the same male colleague.

The defendant admitted to one instance of sexual harassment against the complainant early in the seven-year period, but denied most of the alleged incidents.

He was described in the report as being “evasive and inconsistent in his depiction of events.”

“The ethics office expressed concern that the sexual harassment could continue for such a long period of time with very little apparently being done about it, despite there being several complaints over the years from at least four employees,” Schnoor wrote in his report.

Schnoor then recommended that:

• the perpetrator be dismissed;

• the GN pay the complainant $3,000 in compensation;

• the GN take steps to make sure managers understand their obligations to respond proactively to sexual harassment complaints; and,

• the GN take steps to ensure that all employees understand that they can and should complain about sexual harassment in the workplace.

In an email to Nunatsiaq News, the Finance Department, which oversees Nunavut’s ethics officer, confirmed that the department had implemented all the recommendations.

But the department didn’t say much more.

“We are unable to provide further details on the specific incident in order to protect the privacy of the individuals involved,” said a department spokesperson.

Since the report was received earlier this year, the Finance department has development two anti-harassment workshops — one for managers and one for employees — which are currently being offered across the territory.

To date, deputy ministers, human resources managers and other managers in Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet, Gjoa Haven, Arviat, Baker Lake, Kugluktuk, Igloolik and Iqaluit have attended training sessions, the department said.

The department noted that all GN employees now have access to an online course called Respect in the Workplace, while new employees are required to sign their understanding of the territory’s Harassment Free Workplace policy at the time they are hired.

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