An executive at Canada’s food inspection agency mistreated and harassed staff, abused her authority and made inappropriate comments to employees on an ongoing basis, an investigation by the public sector integrity watchdog has concluded.
A case report from Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Joe Friday tabled today in the House of Commons found that Geneviève Desjardins, vice-president of communications and public affairs for the CFIA, also solicited personal information about employees from their colleagues, including about their health, and would “speak ill” about employees in their absence.
Witnesses said Desjardins targeted certain employees, especially those who challenged or questioned her authority.
“Her overall unacceptable dealings with employees, intrusions into their personal matters and her rude and disrespectful comments about others were deliberate and frequent, and they had an impact on the wellness of many employees at various levels,” Friday said in his report.
Friday said while he doesn’t think the type of behaviour is systemic in the federal public sector, it is his hope that his findings of unprofessional and unacceptable actions will send a strong message that such behaviour is not acceptable or tolerated.
The commissioner’s office does not investigate individual harassment complaints, but systemic instances of behaviour that can have a negative effect on employees and the workplace.
Friday said he is satisfied with CFIA’s response to his recommendations, including one that called for disciplinary action against Desjardins.
She is not currently in her post, but CFIA would not provide any details on her status, citing privacy as an “internal human resources” matter.
A statement provided to CBC News said CFIA has already intitiated action.
“Fostering a respectful and harassment-free workplace is a key priority for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,” the statement reads. “Real or perceived wrongdoing on the part of the agency’s senior management team must be and will be treated seriously and with the rigour and attention that is warranted.”
Fighting to quash
According to the report, CFIA president Paul Glover said that “appropriate action is being taken, bearing in mind the findings of this report, and CFIA and government of…