The Brutal Truth for Zabia Chamberlain

The Brutal Truth Organization is about illustrating the systemic problem of bullying and misuse of power in all facets and levels of society in such a way that imperative changes to society are enabled.

It is important to understand the problem of bullying; whether it is in the schoolyard, workplace harassment, wife abuse, elder abuse, or otherwise, it is all much the same issue — it stems from and is perpetuated by the government and its legal system through faulty laws and social norms.

It is important to be very loud on the issue, sharing the various individuals’ incidents of misuse of power by the initial perpetrator and then the continued abuse that occurs by society’s bureaucracy. As the founder of the organization, I am interested in hearing from others. I was very pleased to be contacted by a brave, strong woman, Zabia Chamberlain, in order to share information regarding her workplace harassment and the subsequent dealings.

I was provided with incredible bits of details that clearly made evident the absurdity and corruption of the system and bureaucrats involved. How Zabia has been assaulted is quite apparent. And it is obvious just how WRONG the system is.

The details were not merely provided by Zabia but by a number of individuals, some of whom are experts in the field. It is necessary to understand that in order to bring about the very much needed changes it will require the synergy and work of all. It will require good to take a stand against evil. It may not be easy but it must happen and thankfully it is. I express gratitude to those who have worked on Zabia’s case to date and will credit them accordingly further on. In helping one helping many occurs, and indeed the whole of society.

To foster change it is best to write an article prior to the completion of Zabia’s lengthy series of trials. It is hoped to have some positive effect on the outcome for Zabia. Doing such will allow an opportunity for the participants to act with more integrity as a mirror is given to them to see themselves and their actions. The effort is not merely to alleviate damages to Zabia but to society. This is not Zabia’s problem. The effects on society are numerous even to those who do not fall as direct victims to bullying.

There is much to say on Zabia’s ordeal. It is important to understand the workplace harassment she endured.

The initial assaults were committed by her boss, a director general (DG) at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). The assaults Zabia has described as “unstoppable aggressive, physical, and distasteful harassment.”  If you were a fly on the wall you would have witnessed such things as the director general excessively yelling at Zabia, rubbing her, and making unrealistic workload demands. The abuse has been validated as such through documented evidence of intimidation, directly related to Zabia’s case, by executives working in the same workplace as the aggressor as far back as the fall of 2007 and as recently as late 2010. One witness, a former colleague of Zabia’s, testified that she also faced similar workload pressures and verbal bullying and physical aggression from the same director general. One of the testimonies of the abuse that Zabia endured comes from another witness who suffers from a medical condition that made witnessing the abuse unbearable. It was decided by this witness’s manager to relocate her work station to eliminate exposure to the abuse. Unfortunately, as was explained to me, when the witness asked about Zabia, she was told to mind her own business. There are numerous aspects of the events to include.

It would be advantageous to understand that senior management overseeing the director-general had Zabia managing a labour market program budget of over $2 billion during the entire period of the violent abuse.  As well, Zabia had a strong performance history with French-speaking skills and a respectful 20-year career, but really it is not imperative information for nobody has the right to abuse another regardless how much or how little abilities, status, or what-have-you the person possesses. There is no reason to find it acceptable for Zabia to be subjected to sexual, physical, psychological, and emotional abuse. And the perpetrator must cease such behaviour and be held accountable for his criminal acts.

Here is a link to a wonderful documentary about Zabia prepared by Julie Ireton, a CBC reporter who investigates issues in the federal public service. It will help understand further the harassment Zabia has endured and its effects on her:  http://www.cbc.ca/ottawa/features/investigations/2011/05/knowing-when-to-talk.html

The effects of the abuse on Zabia are many. She suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. This can be considered brain damage caused from the assault and is very disabling. Understanding this condition is imperative to understanding the effects of misuse of power. There is information available from the medical field on this, and it is an element on which the Brutal Truth Organization strives to educate. Zabia’s loss of work and finances are extensive issues to consider. The continued and expanded abuse that Zabia is subjected to from others has been caused by this director general. Not only has the abuser not been prosecuted; he has been rewarded within his career, and legislation established for such issues as Zabia’s protection has been blatantly disregarded. It is this element of how the issue is managed that is so much of the problem. Not only does the abuse come from the initial perpetrator but from a mob of others including the very individuals that are supposed to be protecting Zabia’s well-being and rights. The disgusting behaviours are difficult to believe, but I can assure you from my and others’ experiences how disgusting they are. The abuse from these authorities in positions of fiduciary responsibility is akin to a father having an incestuous relationship with a daughter or a priest sodomizing an alter boy.

There is support available for Zabia’s case. Mme Sonia Dufour is directrice-générale of Victimaide (www.victimaide.org, 450-332-7878, or cell: 514-704-5325), the non-profit in Quebec that helps workers who are victims of these types of psychological and sexual harassment in the workplace. “Our budget is not high” she says, “but we do our best to travel to many regions in Quebec helping victims in their mediation meetings and labour tribunal hearings.”  In her experience at the provincial level, Mme Dufour questions, “How can we accept these consequences without doing everything in our power to change legislation?  We need to ensure that all complaints of psychological and sexual harassment are no longer treated by the employer with conflict of interest, where they end up doing all they can to protect their actions, their reputations, and even the harasser.”

“It takes years for victims to recover,” says Mme Dufour. “In my profession, I see the financial consequences, the hypervigilence and psychological trauma suffered by victims. They are disastrous on their lives and their family. As a society, we need to take this matter seriously and find serious solutions.”

Professor Razack, Ph.D at University of Toronto’s OISE Institute, states firmly the seriousness of the matter. She says, “When violence against women is ignored, all women learn that they are not equally valued members of society. Employers understand that it is permissible to discriminate against women workers in all matters, from pay to working conditions. There is a great deal at stake then, when one lone woman, faced with no other option, sees that she must fight back by bringing a complaint against her harassers.”

Zabia also has support from Ontario’s public sector — Sid Dean, manager of environmental and occupational health and safety. Working under the provincial safety legislation, Ms. Dean says, “Regarding the qualification for workplace safety and insurance benefits, it appears that the employer wanted Mrs. Chamberlain [Zabia] to sign a document stating the abuse was perpetrated by a third party to the employer. I cannot understand why such a request would be made. To my knowledge the abuser is an employee of the federal government, a director general. My understanding of the Workplace Safety and Insurance legislation is that a third party is a person who caused the accident (in this case violent gender-abusive acts) and who is not an employee of the employer.”

Ms. Dean expresses her own disappointment with the Treasury Board as an employer. “The province of Ontario has only recently added workplace violence to its Health and Safety Act, while the Canada Labour Code has had this language in that legislation quite some time now. The fact that this workplace abuse (towards Ms. Chamberlain) was acknowledged but not properly addressed leads me to question the meaningfulness of such legislation.”

Indeed, for over 10 years, Canada’s Labour Code has had provisions for the protection of employees against workplace endangerment and violence, and the federal Treasury Board has had clear policies and guidelines in place on senior management’s responsibilities to deal with workplace hazards and harassments.

The abuse Zabia was subjected to by her employer is quite extensive, and, as I have indicated previously, it is unbelievable how repulsively these individuals behave. They employ horrific tactics of intimidation and bullying. It is appalling how physicians’ notes and requests are ignored.

The federal employer has acknowledged repeatedly for three years that Zabia is the victim of aggressive sexually-improper physical, and verbal harassment in the workplace, and yet the Treasury Board and the federal system continue wasting Canadian tax dollars on lengthy judicial proceedings by a very tainted system. The perpetrators are high-salaried individuals who are paid amounts approaching $180,000 to $200,000 (the initial perpetrator falls within this), and some of the very senior executives involved are paid salaries between $300,000 and $350,000; yet they do not pay for the legal costs (again, the taxpayer does) and continue to behave criminally and most repulsively. They have refused to accommodate a safe relocation and reassignment to another department, as directed by law and they issued her a Record of Employment and clawed back her benefits and salary to the previous year. They continue to intimidate Zabia into signing documentation with false statements.

This employer withholds monies and uses other tactics to create a situation of duress and financial ruin. And there is no doubt by me that the entire fiasco is by design to inflict the brain damage that they do.

We need to help Zabia. As we do we will be helping all of society. One of the ways to assist is having these individuals held accountable and endure consequences. The talk should not always be Zabia this and Zabia that but should be stating the perpetrators’ names. The focus needs to be on these bullies (criminals) and on the horrible behaviours. They must not be protected for their crimes. It is not illegal to state these individuals’ names. Do not be fooled into believing otherwise. Their alleged behaviour unfortunately is not being brought to criminal court, which I wholeheartedly believe it should be. Oh, do you understand how tainted the system is!  The evidence of their actions is obvious.

In my opinion it would be appropriate if Zabia’s perpetratrators were dealt with under section 148 of the Canada Labour Code — violation of occupational health and safety provisions can be pursued as indictable criminal offence — this was upheld in a Supreme Court ruling 1970s which pointed to a couple major federal statutes as warranting upholding public good (the federal Canada Labour Code and Environmental Protection Act).

Some official records at the federal labour board were released under the Access to Information Act. The principal names of senior management are all over the official board records.  Some of these are as follows:

Karen Jackson — now an associate deputy minister (ADM); responsible for the aggressor, who inflicted heavy work demands and psychological abuse onto Zabia (name already public in this case)

Frank Fedyk — ADM (retired 2011)

Frank Vermaeten — senior ADM; responsible for giving the aggressor acting ADM pay and responsible for director general who threatened Zabia and the witness in Julie Ireton’s article

Gina Rallis — ADM (did not attend her summons in July 2010) (name already public in this case) responsible for Occupational Health and Safety, anti-harassment policy, compensation, salary and correcting the illegal threat of the third-party declaration.

Peter Seguin — (mobber) executive authorized by DM Janice Charette to phone, email, and threaten Zabia in person and in writing

Stephen Johnson — (mobber) DG authorized by DM Janice Charette and senior ADM Malcolm Brown to write threatening letters; also worked for Frank Vermaeten

Jeff Laviolette — executive at Treasury Board responsible for directions to HRSDC about pay actions, mediation, and accommodation (mobber)

Former Deputy Minister Charette and Senior ADM M. Brown responsible for delegating Executives (Mr. Seguin and Mr. Johnson) to threaten and mob Zabia

Helene Laurendeau — ADM at Treasury Board responsible for Laviolette and Treasury Board lawyers

John Atherton — director general who sometimes receives acting ADM pay; original violent aggressor of Zabia

If we are to have the much needed changes in our society we must confront these individuals and address the entire faulty system. This issue is at the very root of the societal problem — the very one that is indeed threatening the well-being of society itself. There needs to be an understanding of how foul and disgusting what is transpiring is. The perpetrators who are being allowed to flourish within our society must be held accountable. Find out more about the problem of bullying and misuse of power and how you can make a difference and bring about the much needed changes to our society.

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