The City of Yellowknife is updating its discipline policy for staff – the latest in a slate of policy updates and additions over the past year and a half.
The various changes have followed earlier allegations of bullying and inappropriate use of City property by a former manager of municipal enforcement.
“The changes … reflect clarity to the process, transparency, and laying out in a bit more detail the steps that are involved [in disciplining staff],” senior administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellett told Yellowknife’s mayor and council this week.
The current policy, in place since 1991, references the expectation of “loyal and honest service” on the part of employees. The new policy states employees must follow bylaws, policies, and procedures, and maintain “proper standards of performance and conduct.”
The new policy states employees can also be disciplined as a result of off-duty conduct, which was not included in the previous version.
The update sets out in more detail what each disciplinary action involves, including the actions employees should take if they are subject to disciplinary measures.
Grounds for dismissal are also included in the new policy. They include, among other actions, “abuse of civic property” and “harassment (including sexual harassment), and threatened or actual physical violence.”
The document lays out disciplinary responsibilities for each level of employee, up to and including the city administrator, and who needs to be consulted before disciplinary action is taken.
“This is any employee. This is myself having to discipline a director, heaven forbid. This could be a director disciplining a manager or supervisor. This is meant to imply anyone where discipline is warranted and needs to take place,” Bassi-Kellett said. The only employee not covered by the policy is the city administrator herself, who would be disciplined by council.
Bassi-Kellett noted the new policy is consistent with employment and labour law and the City consulted”‘external expertise” to draft it.
“This is really an internal tool,” she said. The policy will be available on the city’s internal website.
The revision of the discipline policy comes after the City faced allegations one of its managers used closed-circuit TV cameras to follow and look at women.
The allegations came to light in January 2018. The City continued to employ then-manager of municipal enforcement Doug Gillard while an independent inquiry took place into its handling of related complaints.
Former employees claimed Gillard subjected colleagues to forms of workplace bullying, including inappropriate sexual comments about female colleagues and punching junior officers in the groin.
Bassi-Kellett told Cabin Radio last January the allegations were not being taken lightly, citing the revamping of anti-harassment and respectful workplace policies and the introduction of new whistleblower and security camera policies.
The independent inquiry for the most part exonerated the City’s handling of the allegations, though concluded misconduct related to the cameras “more likely than not” took place.
Gillard remains employed by the City as manager of its emergency management division, formed in 2018.