Both accused appear to be active in their positions, federation claims
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) wants a British Columbia educational institution to suspend two administrators currently under investigation for alleged bullying and anti-Indigenous racism.
The federation expressed serious concerns about how Thompson Rivers University has handled the allegations against Matt Milovick, vice-president of finance and administration, and his subordinate Larry Phillips, the assistant vice-president of people and culture.
In particular, the federation is troubled that both men appear to be active in their positions, according to a report from CBC.
"Given the seriousness of the allegations and the positions of power both Mr. Milovick and Mr. Phillips occupy within the administration, it would be appropriate and is demanded that both be placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation," said David Robinson, CAUT’s executive director, in the letter.
Robinson described this as standard practice to ensure that an investigation is impartial. It's particularly important in this case because Milovick and Phillips are responsible for matters related to human resources, he said.
"The decision to keep Mr. Milovick and Mr. Phillips active in their positions during the investigation casts clouds of doubt over the entire process. It also threatens to inflict serious reputational damage and disrupt the workplace for all employees," Robinson said.
A TRU spokesperson said the university would not comment while the investigation is underway.
Milovick and Phillips are being investigated in response to a Feb. 8 letter from an anonymous group. In the letter, the group noted they had been in contact with dozens of people "who report directly witnessing, or being the victims of, discriminatory conduct, discriminatory statements and/or harassment" by Milovick and Phillips.
At least 13 current and former TRU employees have now filed complaints against Milovick and Phillips, according to the letter.
Both men fostered an unsafe and toxic workplace, and made anti-Indigenous comments on the job, according to CBC, and the allegations against Phillips also include sexual harassment.
The terms of reference for the TRU's investigation say it will include possible violations of, among other things, the B.C. Human Rights Code, TRU's memorandum of understanding with the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc, workplace safety regulations and the school's policies on diversity, sexualized violence and harassment.
Nearly nine in 10 (89 per cent of) Ontario education experienced a threat, attempt or act of physical violence during the 2018-19 school year, according to a report from the University of Ottawa.
Teachers are among those who tend to be most at risk from workplace harassment, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). Also part of this list are health care employees; police, security, or correctional officers; social services employees; and public works employees.