CBC condoned Jian Ghomeshi’s workplace bullying behaviour
National broadcaster failed to “ensure that the workplace was free from disrespectful and abusive conduct.”
An newly released independent accuses the CBC of condoning Jian Ghomeshi’s widely reported abusive workplace behaviour.
The public broadcaster fired Ghomeshi as host of its internationally syndicated radio music and arts program, Q, in October 2014. Ghomeshi was charged with numerous counts of sexual assault and choking last November.
The report released Thursday by employment lawyers Janice Rubin and Parisa Nikfarjam of the law firm Rubin Thomlinson, has determined Ghomeshi engaged in behavior and actions that “consistently breached” the national broadcaster’s workplace “Behavourial Standard”.
“Management knew or ought to have known of this behaviour and conduct and failed to take steps required of it in accordance with its own policies to ensure that the workplace was free from disrespectful and abusive conduct,” said the lawyers wrote in their report.
The evidence Rubin Thomlinson examined “revealed a commonality of experience of many of those who worked with Mr. Ghomeshi.”
The law firm concluded:
1. There was behaviour and conduct on the part of Mr. Ghomeshi that was contrary to the Behavioural Standard established by the CBC. Most prevalent was behaviour that was disrespectful, including behaviour that is “considered to create an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive work environment”. Less prevalent, but also present in a small number of cases, was behaviour that constituted sexual harassment.
2. Management knew or ought to have known of this behaviour and conduct and failed to take steps required of it in accordance with its own policies to ensure that the workplace was free from disrespectful and abusive conduct. It is our conclusion that CBC management condoned this behaviour.
3. More specifically, management failed to adequately respond to information it received from employees that behaviour and conduct contrary to the Behavioural Standard existed in the workplace. Indeed, we have identified in our Report at least three such opportunities for management to inquire and investigate allegations and concerns regarding problematic behaviour that it failed to adequately pursue and address. These opportunities were:
(a) The Red Sky Document presented to management in the summer of 2012. Management took some steps to respond to issues regarding workflow, volume of work, and characterization of roles, but it failed to address the key issue of Mr. Ghomeshi’s behaviour in the workplace;
(b) An allegation made known to management in the summer of 2014 that inappropriate behaviour on the part of Mr. Ghomeshi might have crossed over in the workplace. While steps were taken in response to this allegation, they were insufficiently probative, too narrow, misdirected and flawed. While a more comprehensive investigation was warranted under the circumstances, one did not occur; and
( c) Management’s receipt of communication from an employee who described the presence of various objectionable behaviours on the part of Mr. Ghomeshi.
4. We do not believe the allegation of sexual harassment made by an employee in 2010 came to the attention of management. In this regard, we have concluded that it did come to the attention of the CMG, and it failed to respond properly.
5. While the Behavioural Standard is articulated in various policies and articles in the Collective Agreement, in the case of Mr. Ghomeshi, little and insufficient regard was paid to this standard by those who managed him at the CBC, and those who made decisions about his employment at the CBC. In this regard, we have concluded that what is commonly referred to as “Host Culture” was a contributing factor. This failure to appropriately manage contributed to the existence and persistence of the behaviour and conduct identified above.
6. We have also concluded that there was no one who had clear and consistent authority over Mr. Ghomeshi on a day-to-day basis in the workplace. This contributed to an environment in which breaches of the Behavioural Standard occurred. There is a flaw in the manner in which the Q workplace was designed. Producers, the Executive Producer, and Mr. Ghomeshi were all in the same bargaining unit.
7. We noted the presence of weak systems and processes on the part of the CBC. This formed part of the overall context in which behavioural breaches on the part of Mr. Ghomeshi were allowed to occur.
Meanwhile, the CBC has announced that it’s severing ties with Todd Spencer and Chris Boyce, the two senior executives the report accused of condoning Ghomeshi’s alleged transgressions.
Ghomeshi returns to court on April 28.
Read Rubin Thomlinson’s report on the CBC-Jian Ghomeshi scandal: