COCHRANE – A former senior employee at the Town of Cochrane is suing the municipality for $1.1 million, claiming he was “forced to resign” because of the mayor’s relentless campaign of harassment and bullying.

In a statement of claim filed last Friday at the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto, Jason Boyer says he had no choice but to leave his job as the town’s director of community services after being “effectively run out of town” by Mayor Peter Politis.

His lawsuit seeks wrongful dismissal damages in the amount of $127,420, as well as $500,000 for intentional infliction of mental harm and $500,000 in punitive, aggravated and/or exemplary damages.

“Mayor Politis’ and the Town’s conduct was flagrant and outrageous, calculated to cause harm, and indeed resulted in significant harm to Mr. Boyer on both a personal and professional level,” reads the statement of claim, obtained from the courthouse by TimminsToday

While the town is seeking legal advice, Mayor Peter Politis told TimminsToday he won’t have a comment on the situation.

None of the allegations have been tested in court. The municipality has yet to file its statement of defence.

In July 2023, CAO Monika Malherbe and Boyer filed separate complaints, alleging they were subject to workplace harassment, bullying and intimidation by Politis.

SEE: Cochrane mayor bullied, harassed senior managers: Integrity commissioner
Debate to suspend Cochrane mayor’s pay shows best, worst of municipal politics, he says

The investigation ended Jan. 25, 2024. The integrity commissioner found Politis guilty and recommended his pay be suspended for 90 days — 45 days for each investigation, which was approved by council.

In both of the investigations, it was found that the mayor tried to micromanage town business and events.

Boyer said the issues started shortly after the term started. Elston said that Boyer alleged the mayor psychologically harassed him for eight months. Through his investigation, the integrity commissioner’s view is that the mayor had a strong hostility towards Boyer.

Boyer started working for the town in March 2018. 

On July 19, 2023, he went on a medical leave of absence due to stress and anxiety induced by Politis and later resigned on Dec. 15.

“After waiting approximately six months on leave with no timeline for a resolution, Mr. Boyer could no longer tolerate the situation,” the lawsuit reads.

Boyer has since relocated his family to northwestern Ontario. The same day he resigned, the City of Dryden announced he’d been appointed as its manager of community services.

After Politis was elected in October 2022, the statement of claim alleges the mayor targeted Boyer “for advocating compliance with the town’s policies and a harassment free workplace.”

“Mayor Politis’s mistreatment of Mr. Boyer had a distinct pattern. First, he would assign blame for any failure of any particular community event to Mr. Boyer, challenging Mr. Boyer on his approach to the event’s planning. Then he would disseminate his concerns to council members,” reads the document. 

The specific 2023 events listed in the claim are the January winter carnival, the May farmers’ market, the HVAC RFP in June, and the beach opening and water slide, and closing of the Tim Horton Event Centre in June.

The lawsuit alleges that Politis didn’t respect the chain of command and acted like Boyer’s manager. 

“He was not Mr. Boyer’s supervisor, and had no oversight or management function, nor was he acting under a resolution of council,” reads the statement of claim.

After the integrity commissioner investigation started, the lawsuit claims that Politis actively tried to delay it. 

“When he did provide his responses, they were retaliatory and amounted to victim blaming,” the claim reads.

Because Boyer wasn’t provided notice of termination or pay in lieu, the statement of claim argues that Boyer is entitled to 12 months of pay.

The town didn’t provide Boyer with any notice of termination. The lawsuit claims he is entitled to 12 months pay in lieu of reasonable notice of termination based on his full compensation package.

Boyer is asking for the case to be tried in Toronto.

By Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative

Original Published on May 28, 2024 at 12:51

This item reprinted with permission from   Timmins, Ontario

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