Alberta MLA says he regrets firing woman after she made sex harassment complaint

Alberta MLA says he regrets firing woman after she made sex harassment complaint

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition house leader says he regrets firing an employee after she told him she was being sexually harassed, and says his caucus is committed to ending abuse in the workplace.

“The United Conservative party caucus and myself take harassment at the workplace seriously,” Jason Nixon told the house Tuesday.

“I deeply regret some of the decisions that were made by myself and my organization while handling that human resources issue.”

Nixon was responding to media reports that revealed a British Columbia human rights tribunal ruled in 2008 that Nixon wrongly fired employee Kori Harrison after she complained she was being sexually harassed by a client employing Nixon’s jobsite safety firm.

“We were very, very disappointed at what happened to Ms. Harrison. It was not right then and it is not right now,” Nixon said.

The revelation comes after Nixon stood in the house days ago to speak about concerns he had with a bill put forward by the NDP government that would toughen rules to end workplace harassment.

“I think the house leader needs to carefully consider his role in the house and the message the UCP is sending to women,” Premier Rachel Notley said in the house.

“Instead of defending a woman who complained to him about sexual harassment, two days later he fired her.”

The B.C. tribunal fined Nixon’s firm and others involved $32,000.

The tribunal said Harrison was a single mother of three with no other means of support when Nixon hired her in 2005 and sent her to a worksite in Kelowna, B.C., to enforce safety for a client firm on a condo project.

Harrison said one of site managers began touching her on the shoulders, slapping her buttocks, making lewd comments, asking her to lower the blinds and view pornography on his work computer. At one point, she said she needed new tires and he offered to get them in exchange for sex.

She said the behaviour often left her in tears at the end of the workday.

When she complained about the harassment, the tribunal said, Nixon fired her.

Her termination letter was faxed to her harasser, who then had it passed on to her.

“Ms. Harrison was stunned and upset,” said the tribunal report. “She called Mr. Nixon who she says told her repeatedly it was not his decision to let her go.”

“Mr. Nixon told her that (the client) wanted her out.”

Nixon is leading the UCP caucus until party leader Jason Kenney wins a seat in the legislature. He is running in a byelection in Calgary Lougheed, with voters going to the polls Thursday.

In a statement, Kenney noted Nixon was 25 at the time and that the incident was occurring at a worksite not under his control.

“The record clearly shows that Mr. Nixon was remorseful about the situation, and tried to find the employee a new project to work on,” said Kenney.

“When the employee declined that offer, Mr. Nixon complied with the legal advice that he received to offer the employee a severance package.”

The Alberta government is currently debating legislation to toughen rules for employers to eradicate workplace harassment and prohibit sanctions against those who report abuse.

Last week, Nixon told the house that the industry was already dealing with harassment and was capable of self-policing.

“Harassment policies have been in place for a very long time in most companies, and the right way to deal with it is to get the industry to address it, to work through their safety associations,” Nixon told the house on Dec. 6.

Notley told reporters Tuesday it was “deeply dishonest” for Nixon to speak out against sex harassment provisions without telling the house he had once been sanctioned for firing an employee who had been sexually harassed.

Nixon told reporters Tuesday he has never argued for an industry-only solution. He says government needs to work with employers and not dictate rules from above.

Jason Nixon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The future of Westerner Park continues to be plagued by many unknowns, including when city council will make a decision about financing its operations. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Red Deer city council delays making decision on Westerner Park financing

It will mean missing the next opportunity to apply for a provincial loan

Nineteen-year-old Amanda enjoys a ride during a visit to Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. photo submitted
Busy days at Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler

The ranch, which launched operations last summer, provides support through animal interaction

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the announcement that the city will be getting a drug treatment court Thursday. Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, looks on.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Veer concerned about rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

The City of Red Deer is reminding citizens to protect themselves against… Continue reading

Rode
Volunteering played major role in RDC awards

Under normal circumstances, the RDC Red Deer Bottling Athlete of the Year… Continue reading

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

Toronto Maple Leafs' Nick Foligno (71) and Mitchell Marner (16) celebrate Marner's goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Taylor Pendrith from Richmond Hill, Ont. salutes the crowd after sinking a birdie on the 18th hole to come in at five under par during first round of play at the Canadian Open golf championship Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

Like father, like son: Floreal emerges as one of Canada’s top sprinters

Like father, like son: Floreal emerges as one of Canada’s top sprinters

Toronto Blue Jays center fielder George Springer (4) walks on the field during a team workout, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Blue Jays face the New York Yankees on opening day Thursday in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Injured Jays OF Springer to play in intrasquad game Friday

Injured Jays OF Springer to play in intrasquad game Friday

Toronto Raptors' Khem Birch (24) defends against Brooklyn Nets' Blake Griffin during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Raptors ride strong 3rd quarter to 114-103 win over Nets

Raptors ride strong 3rd quarter to 114-103 win over Nets

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Stunned Canadian players head home after women’s world hockey cancellation

Stunned Canadian players head home after women’s world hockey cancellation

Health Minister Patty Hajdu is shown at a COVID-19 press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai
Health Canada proposes new restrictions on talc in some personal care products

Health Canada proposes new restrictions on talc in some personal care products

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady passes under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Lawmakers are debating legislation to legalize single-event betting as a bill reaches final reading in the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Humphrey
Bill on single-game sports betting on cusp of passing — but not for first time

Bill on single-game sports betting on cusp of passing — but not for first time

Most Read