There has been much written lately about Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation, or its acronym SLAPP.  SLAPPs occur when governments or corporations with deep pockets use the court system to crush their opponents.  SLAPP lawsuits typically  pit the unlimited financial resources of government or corporations against the usually negligible financial resources of public watchdog groups, environmentalists, individuals and the like—effectively “starving out” the opposition.

There is something similar working its way through the Hamilton court system, only in reverse. In this case it is the city of Hamilton who has the deep pockets but is the defendant. Since 2007,  two former Hamilton Licensing Department employees, Tom Redmond and Randy Charlton have been suing the City of Hamilton for wrongful dismissal after they were fired in the wake of the ‘Taxigate’ scandal. The two former licensing managers along with a third employee, Susan McGrath,  who has since dropped off the case; were fired for alleged ‘harassment’ following an threatening and obscenity-laced altercation between Ward 3 Councillor  Bernie Morelli and  a taxi inspector, Michael Francoeur. Francoeur was accused of being overzealous in pulling unsafe taxis off the road during a safety blitz. A taxi owner friend of the councillor complained to Morelli who rushed down to the city garage to confront Francoeur. Among other things, Morelli threatened  to have Francoeur fired. Neither Redmond nor Charlton, who as mentioned ,were managers in the department, witnessed the altercation, but they were subsequently fired for ‘harassment’.

Last month counsel for the city and the two plaintiffs gathered in Assignment Court in Hamilton to try to set a trial date for the lawsuit. Joanna Smith, acting for Charlton and Redmond told the judge that she would require 4 to 5 days of court time to make her case. Representing the city, an attorney from Gowlings asked for nearly 5 times as much court time—five weeks– to mount a defence. It is expected the court will attempt to set a date sometime in March of 2013. Given the overcrowding in Ontario courts, setting aside a five week block for a trial is a logistical nightmare. While matters between attorney’s and their clients are confidential, it is reasonable  that Redmond and Charlton could not have stayed in the game for five years of pre-trial activity plus face the expensive prospect of five weeks of trial without some latitude from their counsel. Both men accepted lower paying jobs in other municipalities following their dismissals.

As to the charges of harassment that led to the firings,  Redmond and Charlton argue  it was council who harassed Francoeur by passing a resolution that changed the qualifications for a cab inspector and thus rendered him unqualified to continue to inspect cabs.  Further, they also say they disagreed in writing with the move to disqualify Francoeur, but their report was doctored to create the opposite impression. The entire affair was investigated by an outside consultant Anne Grant. Her report has been cited as the trigger for the firings, but has never seen the light of day. Hamilton City Council met behind closed doors to order the dismissals of Redmond and Charlton but in arriving at their decision were only shown a redacted version of the Grant report. The defendants’ sued Grant for her part in the affair and subsequently a settlement was reached, although details remain secret. We do get a glimpse of Grant’s position in a statement of defence she filed while the lawsuit against her was still underway. In the statement she says “that the Plaintiffs’ terminations were the City’s decision and
were based on facts other than Grant’s conclusions with respect to the Complaint. “ Nonetheless Grant remains on the list of witnesses that the city intends to call. It is expected that with the trial, the full Grant report with respect to Redmond and Charlton but also regarding Morelli and councillor Sam Merulla will finally get an airing. Grant, in her filing, stated that some, not all, of the facts alleged against Redmond and Charlton were substantiated, that the allegations against Morelli were substantiated, but  that  there was insufficient  evidence to substantiate thus far unknown allegations against Merulla. Grant also produced a 4th report dealing with the alleged actions of the then head of the department, Lee Ann Coveyduck. Although Grant found that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate allegations against her, she subsequently left her post with the city.

Redmond and Charlton have maintained that they were denied fundamental justice in the process—that participated voluntarily in Grant’s investigation without ever being cautioned that it was their actions that were under investigation. Subsequently they were fired without severance in letters of dismissal that spoke only in generalities  of what they had allegedly done to merit dismissal.

In the bewildering aftermath of the incident, the entire Hamilton City Council, with the exception of Morelli, took ‘sensitivity training’ to help them improve their interaction with staff. As for Morelli, he said his only regret was the embarrassment the situation had caused to him personally.

The Bay Observer has asked the City of Hamilton legal department how much has been spent on outside and inside counsel on this case so far.

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation[/box]

(Form 14under thRules)



Dye & Durham CFS (Litigation 5.8)

ONTARIO                                                  .

Court file no. 08 ~ LfcYt~








(Court seal)













plaintiff(s). The claim made against you is set out in the following pages.

acting for you must prepare a statement of defence in Form 18A prescribed by
the Rules of Civil Procedure, serve it on the plaintiff(s) lawyer or, where the
plaintiff(s) do(es) not have a lawyer, serve it on the plaintiff(s), and file it, with
proof of service, in this court office, WITHIN TWENTY DAYS after this statement
of claim is served on you, if you are served in Ontario.

If you are served in another province or territory of Canada or in the United
States of America, the period for serving and filing your statement of defence is
forty days. If you are served outside Canada and the United States of America,
the period is sixty days.

Instead of serving and filing a statement of defence, you may serve and file a
notice of intent to defend in Form 18B prescribed by the Rules of Civil Procedure.
This will entitle you to ten more days within which to serve and file your
statement of defence.


– 2 –











Issued by            _

Local registrar

Address of court office:

45 Main Street East S4i+e… \
Hamilton, Ontario

L8N 2B8




(Nameaddresand tanumber oeacdefendant)


71 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario
L8P 4Y5


– 3 –


1.         The plaintiff, Tom Redmond, claims the following relief:

a)      damages for improper termination and wrongful dismissal in the
amount of $1,000,000.00

b)      punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages in the amount of

c)      special damages in an amount to be proven at trial

2.         The plaintiff, Randy Charlton, claims the following damages:

a) damages for improper termination and wrongful dismissal in the
amount of $1,000,000.00

b)      punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages in the amount of

c)      special damages in an amount to be proved at trial

3.         The plaintiff, Susan McGrath, claims the following damages:

a)      damages for improper termination and wrongful dismissal in the
amount of $200,000.00

b)      punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages in the amount of

c)      special damages in an amount to be proved at trial

Employment Details of Tom Redmond

4.         Tom Redmond is 54 years old and resides in Hamilton, Ontario.

  1. Redmond began his employment with the City of Hamilton on or about
    November 11 th, 1985. He worked continually for the City until January
    22nd, 2007, when he was dismissed. At the time of dismissal, his position
    was Director of the City’s Building and Licensing Division.
  2. Redmond was the most senior employee in the Building and Licensing
    Division. He was responsible for approximately 170 employees and had 6
    senior staff or managers under his direction.
  3. 7.                  Redmond was appointed to this position on or about January 20th, 2004
    pursuant to a City by-law. His position is a statutory one, required by the
    Ontario Building Code Act, 1992.

8.          At the time of his dismissal, Redmond earned an annual salary of



– 4 –

9. . On or about January 22nd, 2007, Redmond was summarily dismissed
without prior notice or pay in lieu of notice.

Employment Details for Susan McGrath

10.       Susan McGrath is 54 years old and resides in Burlinqton, Ontario.

  1. McGrath’s employment began with the City of Hamilton on or about July
    26th, 2006 and, at the time of her dismissal, she occupied the position of a
    Manager in the Standards and Licensing Division.
  2. Prior to her employment with the City of Hamilton, the plaintiff had secure
    employment with the City of Mississauga and left that employment to work
    for the defendant. This fact was known to the defendant when McGrath
    was hired.

    1. McGrath was appointed to her position pursuant to a by-law of the City of
      Hamilton passed on or about September 27th, 2006.
    2. 14.              In her job, McGrath was responsible for a sizeable budget and the
      supervision of a large group of employees, including municipal law
      enforcement officers and their coordinators, such as Randy Charlton.
      McGrath was also given the responsibilities of a Municipal Enforcement
      Officer pursuant to the Police Act and the Municipal Act2001.
    3. McGrath received an annual salary of $93,613.52
    4. On or about January 22nd, 2007, McGrath was summarily dismissed
      without prior notice or pay in lieu of notice .

Employment Details for Randy Charlton

  1. Randy Charlton, (hereinafter referred to as Charlton) is 46 years old and
    resides in Hamilton, Ontario.

    1. Charlton began his employment with the City of Hamilton on or about July
      16th, 1990. He was employed as a municipal law enforcement officer. In
      June 2001, Mr. Charlton was promoted to the position of Coordinator in
      the City of Hamilton’s Standards and Licensing Department, which
      included the duties of a municipal law enforcement officer.
    2. A municipal law enforcement officer is statutory position and is governed
      by Police Act and the Municipal Act 2001. A person is appointed to this
      position pursuant to a by-law from the Council of the City of Hamilton,
      which, in Charlton’s case, was passed on May 1 S\ 2001.
    3. The Coordinator position involved the hiring, supervision and coordination
      of 9 by-law enforcement officers. It also involved investigations,
      inspections, show cause hearings and direct and direct performance of the
      duties of a by-law enforcement officer. Mr. Charlton was responsible ,for


– 5 –

drafting and recommending policies and procedures as well as by-law
changes affecting his section of the Standards and Licensing Department.
He was expected to liaise with City Council members, other agencies,
community groups and the general public. Charlton acted as Manager for
the section in the absence of the permanent Manager.

  1. Charlton earned a basic annual salary of $79,000. He was required to
    work 36 hours per week and routinely received overtime pay for hours
    beyond 36 in a week. In the year prior to his dismissal, Charlton received
    an annual income of $94,400.00 .

Details of Harassment Allegations Against the Plaintiffs

  1. The City of Hamilton alleged that the dismissal of all three plaintiffs was for
    cause. It stated the reasons for the dismissal was the harassment of a
    City employee, and an improper use of authority.
  2. The three plaintiffs deny that they abused their authority or harassed. any
    employee of the City. They assert that no cause for dismissal existed.

    1. The plaintiffs acknowledge that an employee of the City, Mike Francouer,
      filed a complaint that he was harassed by management and at least one
      City Councillor. However, at no time were they shown the complaint made
      by Francouer or provided with specific details as to any allegations made
      in that complaint against them.
    2. The City of Hamilton has a mandatory workplace harassment and
      discrimination policy and procedure in place for its employees. The .
      plaintiffs expected that, should any allegation of harassment be made
      against them, this policy would be followed by the City in its investigation
      and assessment of such complaint.

      1. The plaintiffs claim that this harassment and discrimination policy was not
        followed by the City in its investigation of the Francoeur complaint.
        Without limiting the generality of the foregoing the City :
  • The Human Rights Specialist for the City did not make any efforts
    towards informal resolution of the complaint or, for that matter; even
    inform the plaintiffs that a complaint had been made, before the
    complaint was sent to a formal investigation
  • No opportunity was given to the plaintiffs to become involved in
    Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • The plaintiffs were not informed of the allegations made against
    them by Francoeur and were never advised they were respondents
    to the complaint until they were dismissed by the City
  • In the formal investigation, they were not asked to review the notes
    of the investigator or to initial these notes to confirm their accuracy
  • Because the plaintiffs did not know they were respondents, and
    believed they were only being interviewed as a witness to matters
    alleged in the complaint, they were not given the opportunity to


– 6 –

bring evidence in their defence before the investigation report was

  • The plaintiffs were never given a written summary of the findings of
    the investigation for them to assess and dispute

    • The plaintiffs were not given an opportunity to appeal the findings of
      the investigator

27.       With respect to the plaintiff McGrath specifically:

  • The harassment and discrimination policy of the City of Hamilton
    only permitted an investigation to be conducted with respect to the
    allegations of Francoeur. Notwithstanding this limited mandate, the
    investigator, after finding that McGrath had not harassed

Francoeur, made arbitrary conclusions about the management style
of McGrath and her alleged offensive attitude in the investigation.
These inappropriate and unauthorized findings of the investigator
were used as the basis for terminating McGrath, without providing
her with any opportunity to respond to such allegations

  • The harassment and discrimination policy of the defendant requires
    the appointment of a Human Rights Specialist who was assigned to
    apply the policy. It was not the role of this individual to become
    involved in the investigation itself, which was required to be
    assigned to an outside party. However, the Human Rights

Specialist, Lynn Rutherford, was directly involved in the                   .

investigation of allegations regarding McGrath related to Francoeur,
but were not part of the Francoeur complaint.

  • In this subsequent investigation by Rutherford, none of the
    requirements of the harassment and discrimination policy were
    followed. Instead, Rutherford subjected McGrath to aggressive and
    presumptive questioning in disregard of her rights and in an

abusive manner.

  1. The plaintiffs claim that they are public officers and/or law enforcement
    officers. As such, they were entitled to be afforded procedural fairness
    from the City of Hamilton before any decision was made to terminate their
  2. The City of Hamilton did not afford the plaintiffs procedural fairness.

Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the City:

  • Failed to notify the plaintiffs of its intention to terminate their
    employment before the decision was made.
  • Failed to allow the plaintiffs the opportunity to respond to the
    reasons given for the decision to terminate theiremployment and to
    argue for the continuation of their employment.
  • Failed to follow its own policy on harassment and discrimination
    which laid out procedural safeguards to ensure a fair assessment of
    any complaint against them.


– 7 –

  1. The plaintiffs claim that the real perpetrator of harassment against
    Francoeur was a City Counsellor, Morelli, who threatened Francoeur’s
    employment because he had angered one of Morelli’s supporters through
    the manner in which Francoeur enforced City by-laws against the taxi
    industry. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the defendant
    has confirmed that Councillor Morelli was alleged in the Francoeur
    complaint to have threatened him with the following statements on
    December 10th, 2004:

I do have a problem with a [taxi] owner calling me to tell me the
Barbeque that he is picking me up to go to will be late because he
has to go down to City Hall and deal with the ass hole in the taxi
inspection office and that he is so pissed off that he wants to come
down here with a fucking bat.


Well, you fucking well better be concerned when I’m fucking pissed
off because I’m your fucking boss, I can fire your fucking ass or if I
can’t fire your tucking ass, I’ll have you tucking turfed out of this
tucking office so tucking fast it will make your tucking head spin

  1. On or about May zs”, 2005, Councillor Morelli made a motion to City
    Council to require that the inspector in the taxi office have the qualification
    of a licenced mechanic, a qualification not possessed by Francoeur.
    Notwithstanding the recommendation to Council from Charlton and
    Redmond that this qualification was unnecessary, the motion was
    approved and Francoeur was removed trom the taxi inspection position as
    threatened by Morelli in December, 2004.
  2. The actions of Morelli were, in turn, supported by senior members ot the
    management staff in the City of Hamilton.
  3. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing in paragraph #38, a report
    was prepared by Charlton and approved by Redmond, dated December
    16th, 2005, for submission to the City’s Planning and Economic
    Development Committee. This report recommended against requiring a
    taxi inspector to be a licenced mechanic and even cautioned the
    Committee that making such a change in qualifications could be
    considered as harassment by Francoeur.
  4. Without advising Redmond/Charlton and without their consent, the report
    was revised by the General Manager of their department, Lee Ann
    Coveyduck, after consulting with the Corporate Management Team and
    the General Manager of Human Resources, Catharine Graham, to remove
    the recommendation of Charlton against the new requirement for the taxi
    inspection position and to remove his caution about a possible
    harassment complaint trom Francoeur. Notwithstanding the complete
    modification of the report, it was still submitted to the Committee under
    Charlton’s name.


– 8 –

  1. The plaintiffs claim that they were made a scapegoat by senior
    management of the City and its Council while the real perpetrator of
    harassment, Morelli, was protected from any sanction for his unacceptable
    conduct. None of the senior staff or Morelli were dismissed for their
    actions against Francouer.
  2. The plaintiffs claim that the City of Hamilton subjected them to differential
    treatment in relation to the allegations by Francouer. Without limiting the
    generality of the foregoing, the defendant concluded that the investigator’s
    report did not demonstrate misconduct beyond a reasonable doubt and,
    as such, no action would be taken against Morelli. The same standard
    was not applied to the plaintiffs who were summarily dismissed based
    upon the findings of the same report.
  3. The plaintiffs claim that the City and its Councillor’s publicly inferred that
    they were guilty of the improper use of their power as managers and
    municipal law enforcement officers and that they were guilty of abuse of
  4. The actions of the City of Hamilton forced Charlton to resign his position
    as a Director of the Municipal Law Enforcement Officers Association. In
    addition, these actions cast an air of suspicion over the integrity of all

three plaintiffs and impaired their ability to secure comparable employment

Remedies Sought

  1. The plaintiffs claim that given the nature of their public office, their status
    as enforcement officers and/or their entitlement under the defendant’s
    harassment and discrimination policy, they were denied procedural
    fairness and that the decision to terminate their employment is void. As
    such they continue to be entitled to wages and benefits until a proper
    opportunity to challenge the allegations has been provided to them. The
    plaintiffs therefore claim damages for their improper termination.
  2. The plaintiffs claim that they were wrongfully dismissed and are entitled
    damages for the loss of their salary and overtime for the period of
    reasonable notice they were entitled to receive upon termination of
    employment without just cause.
  3. The plaintiffs would have received the annual increases in salary paid to
    persons in at their level of responsibility employed by the City of Hamilton
    in addition to the salary they received at the time of termination as noted
    above. The plaintiffs claim compensation for the loss of such increase in
    salary for the appropriate notice period.
  4. In addition to the annual salary and overtime mentioned above, the
    plaintiffs participated in the OMERS pension plan. As result of their
    dismissal, the entitlement of the plaintiffs to pension benefits upon


– 9 –

retirement has been adversely affected. The plaintiffs claim compensation
for lost of future pension benefits the full particulars of which shall be
proved at trial.

  1. One of the employment benefits received by the plaintiffs was drug and
    dental expense coverage. The plaintiffs have and will continue to incur
    costs that would otherwise have been covered by the employer benefit
    plan. Full particulars of these costs are not yet determined and will be
    proved at trial.
  2. 44.               The plaintiffs received the following amount of paid vacation annually;
    Redmond 35 days, McGrath 17 days, Charlton 27 days. As a result of
    their dismissal, the plaintiffs were not paid vacation pay for the statutory
    notice period under the Employment Standards Act.

45.·      The plaintiffs claim that the defendant demonstrated bad faith when it
dismissed them and they are entitled to additional damages for bad faith

  1. The plaintiffs claim that the conduct of senior managers at the City of
    Hamilton was cynical and injurious. Without limiting the generality of the
    foregoing, these managers ignored the rights of the plaintiffs and used the
    plaintiffs as scapegoats with respect to the complaint of Francoeur. The
    plaintiffs were denied procedural fairness. As such, they claim punitive
    damages against the defendant.
  2. The plaintiffs have, and will continue to incur expenses in their search for
    alternate employment. Full particulars of these expenses are not yet
    known and will be proved at trial.

48.       Ttle plaintiffe ‘Nish this action to bo trice iA liar i !illen, OntElrio

(Nameaddresstelephone and fax numbers of plaintiffs solicitor oplaintiff)

Date of issue: August 14, 2008

8arrister(s) and Solicitor(s)
207 Locke Street South
Hamilton, Ontario

L8P 486

(905) 522-0600

Fax: (905) 522-9101

Solicitor(s) for the plaintiff(s)




John Best had enjoyed a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

2 Comments to: 3 Fired Former City Employees inching closer to justice

  1. Ahmed Kamel

    November 20th, 2012

    Testing mod rpaf

  2. Mullins

    December 11th, 2012

    John Best’s reporting releases the stink of the sleaze in the city of Hamilton. Keep reporting on this matter John because city staff morale is at an all time low with the careless attitude of senior management and your reporting validates what the staff see but cannot say due to fear of vicious reprisals. The senior managers trample on fundamental charter rights of the employees and your article above proves this point. If this case goes to trial, it will expose the city senior management team as sneaks, bullies and are only interested in how they look in front of council.


Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)