Monday, 24 March 2014

Former employee takes Archdiocese of Ottawa to rights tribunal

Ontario's human rights tribunal will hear the case of a former employee of the Archdiocese of Ottawa who claims she was wrongly dismissed while she was struggling with both menopause and depression.

Ginette Chaumont, 59, worked in a number of positions under the Archdiocese for 22 years and was working as an administrative assistant to the Archbishop when she was dismissed on Nov. 18, 2011.

She alleges she was suffering from symptoms of menopause and depression and that these reduced her energy level and effectiveness at work.

But Chaumont alleges she did not tell her employer of her conditions at the time, though she had previously informed them in 2007 that she was suffering from depression.

She worked longer hours to keep up with her duties and did not file overtime, she alleges. But in 2011 she was dismissed her over concerns about the accuracy, efficiency and organization of her work.

'I was in a state of shock'

Chaumont alleges that after her dismissal she told her employer that her depression and menopause were the reasons for her decreased effectiveness and asked, unsuccessfully, for her job back.

"I felt abandoned, ostracized, I remember thinking I'll never be able to step into the cathedral again," said Chaumont. "I was in a state of shock."

Ginette Chaumont, former employee at Archdiocese of Ottawa
Former Archdiocese of Ottawa employee Ginette Chaumont is challenging her dismissal at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

"It was really the centre of my life," she said of her time at the church. "[Without it], I felt lost."

Chaumont said she has been unable to find work and has had to sell her house and car to survive financially.

Archdiocese says claim has 'no foundation'

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said the case is a termination of employment dispute.

"There is no foundation for a claim of discrimination on any basis. The Archdiocese is prepared to defend its position before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario," said spokeswoman Sarah Du Broy.

The tribunal will begin hearing the case on Wednesday.


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