Timmins: Lawsuit launched over workplace bullying
It’s a time when workplace bullying and harassment are at the forefront due to a new provincial policy taking effect this month.
A Timmins man has launched a lawsuit against the human resources manager at the Timmins and District Hospital.
Paul Gemme has worked at the Timmins and District Hospital since 1993.
He's currently on unpaid leave as a result of what he says were several years of stress, due to a series of bullying incidents in the workplace.
Some of those, he says, happened when he worked as a cook. He says co-workers tampered with food he was preparing. He also says a co-worker once splashed chemicals in his eyes.
Gemme claims in his lawsuit that he sought help from his supervisor, union and human resources manager, Mike Resetar, but his issues were either not addressed at all or resolved inadequately or unfairly.
"He's supposed to be working for the employees, but when you go to see Mike Resetar, he's no longer there for the employees. He's totally for management 100%. He's there to save money for the hospital; they have a deficit." said Gemme.
Feeling like he had nowhere to turn and not willing to give up, Gemme says he launched a civil claim against Resetar for one million dollars in damages including mental suffering and loss of future income.
"I seen the government came out with bill 127: mental chronic stress. They recognized there's a problem in every workplace-- not just the hospital-- everywhere. Well, what i'm trying to do-- going after him personally-- is because i feel he's using taxpayers' money to come and being vindictive to me." said Gemme.
“I found it very interesting that there seemed to be a pattern that was being played out in the hospital and more particularly with Mr. Michael Resetar. And so this seemed like an individual, Paul, was very passionate about his job, passionate about his co-workers and he needed legal help in advocating for both himself and his friends at the workplace." said Gemme’s lawyer, Rahul Soni
Gemme says one of those friends was a man by the name of Paul Morin.
According to the statement of claim, after Morin died on March 26th, 2012, Gemme obtained Morin's private journal in which he indicated that he committed suicide due to bullying, harassment and discrimination.
In response to the claims, the hospital's CEO issued a statement, which reads in part:
"An individual claim against an organization's manager is unusual and, in our view, unwarranted. We have asked our lawyer to assist Mr. Resetar in dealing with the civil claim brought by Mr. Gemme, and to seek to have it dismissed as soon as practicable."
The hospital communications department also issued its own statement today on behalf of Mr. Resetar indicating that he “is troubled by the false allegations Mr. Gemme has made in this legal action."
They also advised that based on legal advice, Mr. Resetar will make no further comment at this time.
Resetar was served just before Christmas.
Gemme's lawyer is awaiting a statement of defense to be filed by the end of this month. None of the allegations have been proven in court.