Arbitrator to hear harassment claims of female officer

Sarnia Police headquarters

Troy Shantz

Allegations of workplace assault and harassment levelled by a female Sarnia Police officer are being sent to arbitration.

The arbitrator was jointly appointed recently by the Sarnia Police Service and Sarnia Police Association, the union that represent officers, said Gary Bennett, the complainant’s lawyer

Staff Sergeant Jaime McCabe-Wyville said she was assaulted in the gym at the Sarnia Police headquarters on Christina Street and subsequently harassed and bullied by the same officer.

“I personally have heard from several women in Sarnia and some others other than Staff Sergeant McCabe-Wyville who have spoken about a poisoned work environment and discrimination against them as women in Sarnia Police Service,” Bennett said in a phone interview.

“One is more than enough,” he added. “And when it’s more than one it’s a concern that we’ve got a poisoned work environment, and this is what we call systemic discrimination.”

Windsor Police Service has investigated McCabe-Wyville’s assault allegation.

A Windsor Police investigator concluded last May: “I am of the opinion that reasonable grounds have been satisfied to believe (the male officer) committed the offences of assault and criminal harassment.”

However, after consulting with the Crown, the investigator did not recommend charges be laid because there was no prospect of conviction.

The Sarnia Police Service then hired Toronto lawyer Helen Daniel to investigate McCabe-Wyville’s allegations. That third-party report found no evidence she had been assaulted or experienced workplace harassment, Chief Norm Hansen said on Feb. 2.

Daniel report, which hasn’t been made public, did however conclude the work environment has become “toxic from the pervasive gossip engaged in by officer and civilian employees,” Hansen said.

The report also offered recommendations to improve the work environment at Sarnia Police.

In the meantime, McCabe-Wyville has been off work without pay.

“It sounded very staged,” Bennett said of the Chief’s summary. “He hasn’t released the report to anybody. So really nobody knows what the report says.”

Bennett said anyone with evidence pertaining to McCabe-Wyville’s claims could be summoned to the arbitration process.

Arbitrators have the authority to order damages paid to the victim, and fines for Ontario Human Rights Code and the Workplace Standards Act violations can be ordered, Bennett added.