Employee Accused of Psychological Harassment Irregularly Reinstated for Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Public Funds, Violations of Quebec Laws and “Serious Breaches” of Ethics and Professional Conduct: the Municipal Integrity Investigations and Prosecutions Department (DEPIM ) of the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) published very harsh findings on Tuesday with regard to the small municipality of Saint-Placide, in the Laurentians.

“In the opinion of the DEPIM, several reprehensible acts have been committed with regard to the Municipality”, concludes the report made public on Tuesday.

In June 2019, the municipal council adopted a resolution to dismiss a municipal employee who had been the subject of psychological harassment complaints, after having documented the situation through two external reports. The employee challenges the decision before the administrative labor tribunal (TAT). In the November 2021 elections, only two members of the municipal council are re-elected.

“According to the investigation, some members of the new board, including a person who is related to the employee and who had worked for many years with her, had given themselves the mandate to “settle” the employee’s file. they were elected, reinstating the employee in her position,” the report states.

In September 2022, the board adopts three resolutions. One authorizes the reinstatement of the employee, the other two are intended to cover the bill, salty, of the operation. One resolution seeks to allocate an accumulated surplus of half a million dollars “as a litigation installment to the [TAT]”, and the other to authorize a loan settlement of $800,000 over 10 years “for the payment of fees, legal costs and court judgment”.

The private mediator chosen by the municipality “is not a mediator recognized by the Barreau du Québec”, notes the report. In addition, he “did not show impartiality and […] this tainted the whole process”, denounces the direction of the investigations.

The resolution ordering the employee’s reinstatement “is worded in a way that does not reflect reality” and the loan authorization by-law contains “errors in the drafting”, also points out its report.

The Investigations Directorate also believes that the municipality “gave inaccurate or even erroneous information to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing when it sent the sheet of its loan by-law”.

Resolutions passed on April 18 revoked this loan by-law. The Investigations Department, however, considers “very likely that new sums will be paid to the employee” since the litigation before the TAT is not over.

“It is the citizens of the Municipality who will pay the bill for this guerrilla warfare which, in the end, will only have resulted in losers”, deplore the authors, recommending that their report be tabled at the next regular meeting of the municipal council. .

The report also recommends that the Minister of Municipal Affairs put the human resources of the municipality under the supervision of the Municipal Commission, by giving the latter the power to appoint, dismiss, or suspend officers or employees without salary.

While emphasizing that it did not have the mandate “to rule on the existence, or not, of psychological harassment”, the Investigations Department notes that “the Municipality has not put in place reasonable means so that the return of the employee does not compromise the right of municipal employees to work in a healthy environment”.