Woman accusing Rick Chiarelli of sexual harassment sues City of Ottawa for $ 325,000 – Ottawa

WARNING: This story contains content that some may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.

One of the plaintiffs made allegations of sexual harassment against College Coun. Rick Chiarelli is now suing the city of Ottawa for allegedly failing to live up to its expectations as an employer and allowing the councilor to promote a “hostile and poisoned” work environment.

Stephanie Dobbs, a former assistant to the vulnerable councilor, is demanding $ 325,000 in compensation and lost income toward the city in connection with her experience working at Chiarelli’s office.

In a statement of claim filed on January 11, 2021, Dobbs’ attorney Todd Barney accuses the city of violating its own policies regarding harassment in the workplace and staffing as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code. The case also alleges that the Ottawa City Council broke its own code of conduct in Dobbs’ case.

The allegations in the allegation statement are not proven in court.

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But Ottawa’s integrity commissioner Robert Marleau, who investigated allegations against Chiarelli made by former employees and job applicants for the councilor’s office, concluded in two reports in 2020 that the allegations from Dobbs and other complainants were well-founded.

Read more:

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Dobbs was referred to as “Complainant 2” throughout Marleau’s second report released last fall. The report detailed several allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace, among them that Chiarelli made inappropriate comments about the bodies of female employees and would ask them to “go without a bra.”

The councilor did not cooperate with Marleau’s investigation and has denied all charges against him.

City attorney David White would not comment on the charges Friday.

“In line with its standard approach to litigation, the city of Ottawa does not comment publicly on cases that are before the courts,” White said in a statement to Global News.

The news of the trial was first reported by Citizens of Ottawa.

The allegation describes the alleged abuse Dobbs was subjected to, saying Chiarelli fostered a “hostile and poisoned” work environment. The city is “directly and deputy responsible” for the damages she faced, the case accuses.

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The allegation says Dobbs was “subjected to numerous acts of harassment and sexual harassment, highly negative, violent and traumatic experiences and inappropriate behavior” while employed by Chiarelli.

It traces her experience from the time she applied for the position in 2015, where she says that during the conversation she was asked to reveal personal secrets to win the councillor’s trust, until 2018, when she says that she was forced to take sick leave as as a result of i.a. her experiences at the College Ward office.


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Dobbs became ill and threatened with suicide towards the end of her term in office, the allegation states, forcing her to take sick leave and affecting her ability to earn a salary during her employment in the city as well as subsequently.

Although Ottawa City Council members are responsible for hiring decisions, hiring contracts are created for councilors’ assistants through the city itself.

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The claim accuses the lack of standardized recruitment, interviewing and hiring policies for assistants “creating and alienating the potential for an uncivilized, disrespectful, toxic and poisoned work environment for councilors’ office staff.”

The city council moved to address some of its shortcomings around the process of hiring councilors last year in the wake of Marleau’s results.

The council adopted a proposal in July 2020 that would see a third party from the city clerk’s office or human resources present in all future interviews, as well as ensure that all such interviews take place on a municipal basis.

The council has added Chiarelli to 450 days’ pay, deprived him of committee duties and unanimously urged him to resign from his post, but he continues to serve during the current council term.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of emergency, call 911 for immediate help.

Crisis Services Canada‘s free helpline provides 24-7 support at 1-833-456-4566.

Child help telephone operates a toll-free helpline at 1-800-668-6868 with 24-7 support for youth as well as Crisis text line, which can be reached by writing to HOME to 686868.

The free Hope for well-being Helpline provides 24-7 support to Indigenous people at 1-855-242-3310. Online chat services are also available.

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Trans Lifeline operates a free peer support hotline for trans and interrogators at 1-877-330-6366.

For an overview of support services in your area, visit Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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