Threatening social media postings against complainants
Two former workers in the constituency office of Hamilton Mountain MPP Monique Taylor have filed Human Rights Tribunal applications alleging personal and sexual harassment. In addition the filing of one of the two complaints has triggered threatening social media postings that have been reported to Hamilton Police Services. Sandra Troulinos, A former close friend of Taylor, who later became a constituency worker in the constituency office of 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, Alissa Watt. In a document filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario earlier this month, 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 unfounded 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 Alissa’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 Alissa. I told her that I would not because I did not believe I was being harassed or that Alissa’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.
Following the publication last month of Sandra’s story, a Facebook posting appeared from Nicole Taylor, the MPP’s sister, castigating Sandra for disloyalty. In response to that, a posting by Maggie Miller read, “you want me to knock a bitch out?,” to which Rachael Cameron replied, “So what’s the plan. I’m 10 (minutes) away.” Sandra took her concerns to the Hamilton Police Service but said the officer she spoke to did not even look at the postings—something Hamilton Police are now investigating. Sandra’s lawyer Wade Poziomka called the postings “disturbing and unacceptable,” adding, “comments that are being made, certainly appear to allude to physical violence.”
For her part, Alissa Watt, the worker accused of sexual harassment, alleges she was belittled for not being available for political events at night and on weekends owing to her need to care for an ailing parent. Citing one example, Alissa wrote, “Monique was attending a weekend event which I was unable to attend due to family obligations. I had listed in both my calendar and Monique’s calendar that I was unavailable on this weekend weeks in advance. Despite that, Monique was very angry with me when I reminded her that I would not be able to attend. She was angry with me for days afterward and her hostility was so stressful that I broke down crying in the parking lot of our office for disappointing her. I felt that I had to choose between my family obligations and workplace hostility —Monique was making it clear to me that my family priorities (on weekends) were a problem for her. “
Alissa described a second incident in the fall of last year. “On one occasion on or around September 10, 2017 Monique became angry with me for telling another employee that when she canvassed with Monique on the weekend it would count towards her week’s hours. When Monique heard this she became angry and said “I’m not (expletive) paying people to canvass for me”. I felt that her response was disproportionately hostile to what was, at worst, an innocent mistake on my part. This incident only contributed towards the anxiety I was experiencing at work.”
Alissa categorically denied the sexual harassment allegation made against her, and like Sandra, suggested that Taylor’s own frank discussion of personal matters made them uncomfortable. “In addition to making false allegations of sexual harassment against me, Monique also made me uncomfortable with comments which were unwarranted and sexual in nature…during this and other times where she made comments about her personal relationships…” Her filing says the sexual harassment charge was launched as an easier way to get rid of her, than trying to dismiss her for her unavailability for weekend political events, which according to the Union contract are supposed to be strictly voluntary.
Sandra’s complaint, which has yet to be proven before the Human Rights Tribunal alleges that as a result of the pressure to falsely accuse her 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. Alissa is also on a medical leave, has filed a grievance, as well as her Human Rights Complaint. Alissa’s complaint states, “As a result of Monique’s conduct I struggled with frequent panic attacks, I could not sleep and my overall wellbeing deteriorated significantly. I have been attending my doctor’s office regularly since I commenced my medical leave and I have been advised that I am not medically able to return to work at this time.”
Both claims seek apologies and damages totalling $225,000.