Ottawa, April 18, 2013 – The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Mario Dion, tabled another report on a founded case of wrongdoing in the federal public sector in both Houses of Parliament today. This report found that the actions of Ms. Shirish P. Chotalia, former Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) constituted gross mismanagement under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
“Ms. Chotalia harassed and abused her staff and appointed members of the CHRT, disregarded advice and created a dysfunctional workplace, which jeopardized the ability of the CHRT to fulfill its mandate,” stated Mr. Dion in his report. “I would like to commend the courage of those who chose to approach my Office to make a disclosure of wrongdoing.”
The report found that Ms. Chotalia repeatedly harassed employees at all levels by referring to them in derogatory terms, by questioning their competencies in the presence of their colleagues and by spreading misinformation about them in the workplace. Ms. Chotalia, during meetings and in the presence of other employees, behaved in a way that was belittling and humiliating toward individuals. She frequently raised individuals’ personal health issues, the topic of a previous disagreement, and unjustifiably blamed employees for errors. In some cases, individuals were brought to tears as a result of her public humiliations.
Commissioner Dion made one recommendation to the acting Chairperson of the CHRT to assess the need for a workplace wellness initiative and the implementation of related means to support the staff who were subjected to abuse by the former Chairperson. He also wishes to highlight the importance of the government properly assessing prospective appointees’ behaviour and attitude toward subordinates before making any appointment of a deputy head or chief executive in the federal public sector.
“I feel very strongly about highlighting the important role government plays in making appointments, considering the profound impact senior leaders can have on those reporting to them and on Canadians’ trust in public servants and institutions,” stated the Commissioner.
Please consult the report for further details.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada