After a five and a half month inquiry, employment lawyer and workplace harassment expert Janice Rubin delivered a damning report to the CBC, detailing evidence of misconduct by management in relation to the Jian Ghomeshi affair.
Ghomeshi, who was dismissed by the CBC on October 26, 2014 after management reviewed “graphic evidence” of his involvement in violent sex, is charged with one count of choking and seven accounts of sexual assault. Court proceedings are underway.
Rubin’s report, which was released today to the public, is the product of personal interviews with 99 individuals who were deemed to have relevant information regarding the workplace culture of CBC’s Q and Canada Reads programs. Rubin concludes that Ghomeshi’s behaviour repeatedly fell short of standards outlined in CBC’s Collective Agreement, which require employees to refrain from discrimination and harassment including “abusive language, intimidation, taunting, rude or inappropriate jokes and overly aggressive, embarrassing, humiliating, or demeaning behaviour.” Ghomeshi’s colleagues described such behaviour as “creepy” massages, comments about physical appearance, sexual touching, soliciting dates, sharing sexual anecdotes, and physically intimate relationships with junior coworkers.
In addition to demonstrating abominable workplace conduct by Ghomeshi, Rubin’s report suggests that apart from allegations of sexual abuse, management was largely aware of Ghomeshi’s unacceptable behaviour toward co-workers. Rubin highlights the fact that employees working directly with Ghomeshi were often junior, non-permanent staff, and reliant on the program to establish their careers. She notes that any attempts by management to address Ghomeshi’s behaviour were conducted informally, outside the disciplinary process outlined in CBC’s Collective Agreement. For this reason, employees had a “lack of trust and confidence in the complaint process,” believed that the “workplace was a ‘sealed unit,’ and that it was expected that they deal with their concerns regarding Mr. Ghomeshi internally.”
“To put it plainly,” the report explains, “we saw no compelling evidence that Mr. Ghomeshi was ever told his behaviour would have to improve, or that he would have to refrain from certain types of behaviour, or else face disciplinary action including termination.”
Rubin suggests that on three separate occasions, management failed to properly investigate claims regarding Ghomeshi’s sexual misconduct in the workplace. Had they properly inquired, they would have uncovered allegations that Ghomeshi had a sexual relationship with two different staff members, had grabbed a colleague’s behind, made sexually harassing comments to at least one colleague, had inappropriate relationships with two interns, revealed details about his sex life to co-workers, and belittled and humiliated Q staff.
Lastly, the report notes that design flaws in the workplace leadership structure — including the fact that Ghomeshi, the producers, and executive producers belonged to the same union — created a vacuum in which there was no one fully equipped to hold Ghomeshi accountable for his behaviour. Rubin also points out CBC’s overreliance on formal complaint, poor documentation practices, and gaps in training on standards regarding human rights.
CBC announced that it would be “severing ties” with two senior managers — radio executive Chris Boyce and Human Resources manager Todd Spencer — soon after the report was delivered on Monday, April 13th. In response to the document, CBC President Lacroix offered an apology to CBC employees and to Canadians.
Jess Martin is a feminist, student, and aspiring writer from Vancouver, BC.