The Toronto Police will have to pay former police constable Ivania Chuvulo $20,000 for failing to provide a harassment-free workplace.
The Ottawa Citizen recently published an article titled, “Fired officer called ‘bimbo’ wins $20,000 award”. It explains that former constable Chuvalo was subjected to sexual harassment and public discrimination by her superior officer Sgt. Alfred Iannuccili. After being called a “bimbo” in front of colleagues and told that she needed to learn to speak English, Chuvalo filed a complaint with the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) at police headquarters. Her complaint was dismissed after what she thought was an unfair investigation. She was later fired for insubordination, citing her complaint against Iannuccili as evidence.
Earlier this month, the Ontario Human Rights Commission awarded her $20,000 for wrongful dismissal. Part of what motivated the ruling was (1) the officer assigned to the case had no prior experience investigating allegations of sexual harassment. (2) Iannuccili had been assigned to police headquarters as a result of two prior complaints against him regarding gender.
Harassment in the workplace does not have to be explicit, as it was in this case. Often, it can be inferred from actions that occur both at and outside of the office. The key thing to remember is that harassment occurs when someone’s rights have been infringed upon. When a complaint is made, it is important that a fair investigation is conducted. Regardless of whether action is taken against the alleged offender, the complainant should feel that they are returning to a safe work environment. In this particular case, the PSU failed to provide a remedy, which poisoned the work environment for Chuvalo. In such a situation, as the court illustrated, inaction may as well be dismissal.
Read more about harassment in the workplace in Daniel Lublin’s article, “Harassment doesn’t belong at work”.