Tay Valley votes to uphold harassment charges against Councillor

January 31, 2018 by
Residents packed the council chambers in Tay Valley

Residents packed the council chambers in Tay Valley

At its regular council meeting on Tuesday January 30th, Tay Valley council voted to uphold harassment charges against one of its own.

Councillor Judy Farrell has been the subject of a workplace harassment investigation since late 2016.

“Any suggestion that the investigation was limited to the meeting in June 2017 is not true,” said Larry Donaldson, CAO.

According to Donaldson the investigation conducted by an independent over a period of months was thorough and involved documents, emails and interviews with the complainants and witnesses who had pertinent information. “The township has a legal obligation to ensure employees are not subjected to harassment,” said Donaldson.

In a recorded vote, Reeve Keith Kerr, Councillors, Jennifer Dickson, Fred Dobbie, Greg Hallam and Mark Burnham voted to impose sanctions on Councillor Farrell.

Councillors Brian Campbell and RoxAnne Darling voted against the punishment.

“I propose that every council member and staff undertake the same sensitivity training that is being asked for Councillor Farrell,” said RoxAnne Darling.

Campbell also spoke up in support of Farrell suggesting that the entire issue could have been avoided. “Could the harassment have been prevented from happening if we had taken action over the concerns that had been raised with regard to our building department?, he asked. "Judy Farrell is not a bad person, she felt she was doing what she was elected to do, ” said Campbell.

As things stand, Tay Valley council has voted to uphold the independent investigations findings and impose a range of sanctions.

“It’s not an easy decision but our main objective is to keep an environment that’s workplace friendly and harassment free,” said Kerr.

Farrell will no longer sit on any committees of council, or communicate in any way with town staff except through the township’s CAO, she is prohibited from appearing at the municipal offices except to attend council meetings.

Councillor Judy Farrell

Councillor Judy Farrell

These sanctions are effective immediately but can be lifted if Farrell agrees to issue written apologies to the complainants and undergo sensitivity training both of which she has refused to do, because she says she has not been treated fairly nor had an opportunity to defend herself. "My lawyer has not received any documentation from the township lawyer saying what the results of the investigation were, nor does she plan to give him any of that, because all that I’m entitled to is to know that I’m guilty and do my punishment," said Farrell.

“What about her voters? Her voters have lost their voice, has anyone given any thought to that?” asked Rob Farrier, Tay Valley resident and Farrell supporter.

Others in the packed gallery were satisfied with the decision council made.

“I applaud council, this is a difficult thing to do, I think they did an excellent job. It’s obviously the only decision that would make sense given the circumstances,” concluded Colin Stephenson, resident.