Woman says she was pressured to accuse co-worker of sexual harassment
A former close friend who later became a constituency worker in the office of Hamilton Mountain MPP Monique Taylor, has filed a Human Rights complaint against the MPP alleging harassment, bullying and persistent pressure to file a false claim of sexual harassment against a co-worker. In a document filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario earlier this month, Sandra Troulinos says she had been friends with MPP Taylor for 34 years before being hired to work in her constituency office in 2014. She described the work environment as demanding but said she had performed her duties professionally and had received positive performance reviews up until the last year of her employment, when as the document reads, “… Monique has become increasingly aggressive and hostile towards my colleagues and me. She bullies and demeans us regularly. Most problematic though, is that she has made unfound allegations against my colleagues and complaints about them.” The document went on to describe a campaign by Taylor to force Troulinos to file a sexual harassment complaint against a co-worker, Alissa Watt. She recalled being called into Taylor’s office where the MPP asked her for her impressions of her co-worker.
“I told Monique that I liked Alissa, that she was quirky, funny and that she was complimentary and occasionally gave me hugs. I laughed about this and was obviously not concerned with Alissa or her conduct—I never, once, told Monique that Alissa made me uncomfortable or gave her any indication that I felt sexually harassed by Alissa’s behaviour.
In response, Monique told me that Alyssa’s conduct towards me (as I had described to her) was “not right” and that I should tell … Human Resources the next day. Not only did she say I should tell (HR), but she also told me that I “would” file a complaint with Human Resources about Alyssa. I told her that I would not because I did not believe I was being harassed or that Alyssa’s conduct was inappropriate. “
What followed, according to the filing, was “unrelenting” pressure from Taylor for Sandra to file the complaint, when she refused these requests, Taylor went ahead and filed the complaint herself. “She told me that if I did not participate it would make her look bad. I simply could not lie about something which I did not take offense to or feel was wrong —I felt that it violated my own sexual integrity to be forced to conform with someone else’s view of what was and was not sexually appropriate,” the complaint continued.
The complaint, which has yet to be proven before the Human Rights Tribunal alleges that as a result of the pressure to falsely accuse a co-worker the work environment in the office became poisoned. Sandra went on a medical leave of absence last November and has filed a grievance with the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) in addition to the Human Rights complaint. Alyssa is also on a medical leave, has filed a grievance and is expected to file a Human Rights Complaint as well.
The claim seeks damages totalling $225,000.
In response to enquiries by the Bay Observer, MPP Taylor issued the following statement. “If an employee has engaged a formal process to resolve her concerns, I look forward to participating and being fully cooperative. In fact, our human resources department has been proposing a fully independent investigation of this employee’s concerns for several months. To date, neither the employee nor her union have agreed to participate. I look forward to the outcome of any investigation into this matter.”
– Monique Taylor
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