THE DEMOCRATIC REPORTER
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National Post - June 2, 2010 - By Megan O'Toole - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mississauga city officials moved to avert a firestorm on Wednesday as images emerged of transportation and works employees bound with duct tape allegedly at the behest of one of their supervisors.
A report by an independent investigator revealed this was part of a pattern of behaviour, in which the supervisor encouraged hazing of employees.
Yet no one has been fired as a result of the incidents, which were brought to the attention of the city’s human resources department last November.
On Wednesday, Mayor Hazel McCallion called such behaviour “absolutely unacceptable.”
“It is contrary to the code of conduct of the employees of the city of Mississauga, and the necessary disciplinary action has been taken,” she said. “That is, the employees have been warned that if any incident anywhere near this would happen again, they would be terminated from the city.”
The city called in the investigator last fall and released a heavily redacted copy of his report on Wednesday. However, it does not identify how many or who was disciplined. Nor does it name the investigator.
The employees work at the city’s Mavis Road sign shop and described being bound together with duct tape, rolling around on a table to avoid water balloons tossed by colleagues. Another employee was duct-taped and put on the back of a truck that was sent through the wash bay.
Employees were also given a series of whacks on their birthdays.
“People are allegedly told by the respondent to hit hard and to kick or punch in the face, ribs or groin area,” the report says. “If the respondent feels the hit is not hard enough, the person is instructed to hit again.”
The report concluded that while the hazing was “good-natured and voluntary,” the incidents still violated city policy.
The hazings came under scrutiny this week after sign shop employee Alex Juani gave a cellphone video of them to the media.
She said the investigation found several employees acted inappropriately. But while a “stern warning” was warranted, dismissal was not.
Ms. McCallion suggested the city may have found itself in legal difficulty had it gone ahead with termination when the report “clearly demonstrated” that it was not appropriate.
That report was dated March 9, but apparently did not satisfy Mr. Juani, who lodged a complaint with Peel police three weeks later.
“He was not a victim himself of this; however, he did indicate he was there when this stuff was going on… He felt that they were pressured into participating,” Constable Wayne Patterson said, noting the complaints did not amount to a crime.
The Labour Ministry also received a complaint on April 16, but found no evidence of harassment.
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