The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced it had severed ties with two executives implicated in the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, as it released a damning third-party report into workplace harassment and abuse by the former star radio host.
The public broadcaster told staff Thursday that Chris Boyce, the executive director of radio and audio, and Todd Spencer, the executive director of human resources and industrial relations, who had been on leaves of absence since early January, were “no longer with the corporation.”
The announcement came moments before the release of a report by employment law firm Rubin Thomlinson that painted Mr. Ghomeshi as a co-worker who “consistently breached the behavourial standard” of CBC by yelling at, belittling and humiliating others.
“Management knew or ought to have known of this behaviour and conduct and failed to take steps required of it in accordance with its own policies to ensure that the workplace was free from disrespectful and abusive conduct,” the report says. “It is our conclusion that CBC management condoned this behaviour.”
Lawyer Janice Rubin and her colleagues conducted 99 interviews over five months, though Mr. Ghomeshi refused their request to participate.
The report adds that “there was no one who had clear and consistent authority over Mr. Ghomeshi on a day-to-day basis in the workplace.” It concludes: “There is a flaw in the manner in which the Q workplace was designed. Producers, the executive producer, and Mr. Ghomeshi were all in the same bargaining unit.”
During a teleconference, CBC/Radio-Canada president Hubert Lacroix said “the findings of this report are troubling. They’re disappointing. They point to lapses in our system and concerns about our culture.”
Heather Conway, the executive vice-president of English services, said “we support and are in agreement with the recommendations that are here, and we will be working every day to address any kinds of weaknesses that existed in the management system.”
Mr. Ghomeshi faces seven counts of sexual assault and one of overcoming resistance by choking, but the Rubin report found most of his corrosive behaviour was of a more mundane sort. He subjected his co-workers to a steady drumbeat of ill-tempered conduct, freezing out those who displeased him and regularly diminishing others’ contributions.
Still, it does detail “sexualized conduct and comments of Mr. Ghomeshi,” charging that he was “overly familiar with a number of female employees and gave them back rubs and massages.” Mr. Ghomeshi also “flirted with a number of women present in the workplace, including on-air guests,” and “shared details about his own sex life. There were incidents where Mr. Ghomeshi shared information that witnesses found too personal, too graphic and generally unsavoury.”
While the report says Ms. Rubin “found no evidence of a formal complaint made against Mr. Ghomeshi under the CBC’s policies,” it notes that, as he was a star who wielded power, they perceived themselves as vulnerable. Co-workers upset with his behaviour were reluctant to complain “for a number of reasons, including a lack of trust and confidence in the complaint process.” It adds that, “while Mr. Ghomeshi’s star was allowed to rise, his problematic behaviour was left unchecked.”
The report makes nine recommendations to beef up its workplace protections, including the establishment of a confidential hotline and a “Respect at Work and Human Rights Ombudsperson,” and calls for the creation of workplace surveys and “spot audits.”
It also suggests the broadcaster establish a task force with its union, the Canadian Media Guild, to address “the difficulties many younger employees have securing reliable work, and establishing a career at the CBC and their vulnerability to behaviour that is contrary to the behavioural standard in order to maintain their employment.” The report says younger workers “eloquently described the cost to them, financially, emotionally and otherwise, of being professionally insecure.”
On Thursday, the broadcaster issued pink slips for 241 employees across the country, following an announcement last month that it would cut $15-million from its annual budget.
Mr. Ghomeshi is free on $100,000 bail. He will be back in court April 28. None of the allegations have been proved in court.
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Apr. 16 2015, 11:32 AM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Apr. 16 2015, 10:17 PM EDT