Founded wrongdoing by the former Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
On May 4, 2011, the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada received a protected disclosure of wrongdoing against Ms. Shirish P. Chotalia, Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT).
The discloser(s) alleged that Ms. Chotalia created a dysfunctional workplace for employees and members of the CHRT and jeopardized the CHRT’s ability to fulfill its mandate. It was alleged that she harassed and abused staff and members of the CHRT through intimidating and aggressive behaviour, made inappropriate comments and disregarded advice from staff and from the CHRT’s Shared Human Resources Services (SHRS).
Furthermore, the discloser(s) alleged that Ms. Chotalia committed irregularities in up to four staffing processes at the CHRT, thereby contravening the Public Service Employment Act.
Finally, the discloser(s) alleged that Ms. Chotalia failed to follow government information management security policies, specifically the Operational Security Standard: Management of Information Technology Security.
The investigation found that:
- Ms. Chotalia committed gross mismanagement in the public sector by:
- harassing and abusing staff and members of the CHRT through intimidating and aggressive behaviour and making inappropriate comments;
- disregarding advice from her staff and from the SHRS of the CHRT; and
- creating a dysfunctional workplace for employees and members of the CHRT that potentially jeopardized the ability of the CHRT to fulfill its mandate.
- The allegations that Ms. Chotalia failed to abide by the Government policies on Security and IT and interfered in a police investigation on a hacking incident were not substantiated.
- The investigation into allegations that Ms. Chotalia contravened the Public Service Employment Act in the appointment of staff by circumventing the principles of fairness and in the case of one appointment, the linguistic profile for the position, was ceased under paragraph 24(1)(a) of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (the Act) prior to making a finding because the subject-matter of these allegations is currently under investigation by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and falls within the mandate of the PSC.
In accordance with the Act, the Commissioner made a recommendation to the interim Chairperson to help staff that was affected by the wrongdoing identified in the Case Report.
The Commissioner is satisfied with the interim Chairperson’s response to the recommendation.
The Commissioner also wishes to highlight the importance of the government using tools to systematically assess information about prospective appointees’ behaviours and attitude toward subordinates before making any appointment of a deputy head or chief executive in the federal public sector.
The full Case Report can be viewed at www.psic-ispc.gc.ca
For more information, contact:
Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada