Former Alberta UCP staffer alleges sexual harassment, heavy drinking in lawsuit against premier’s office

A former UCP workers member has launched a lawsuit in opposition to the workplace of the premier of Alberta and it has no less than one UCP MLA calling on Jason Kenney to resign.

In an announcement of declare filed Oct. 1, Ariella Kimmel — the previous chief of workers to the minister of jobs, financial system and innovation — alleges sexual harassment, fabrication rumours of her leaking tales and heavy ingesting by ministers and senior staffers contained in the legislature.

Not one of the allegations has been confirmed in courtroom. An announcement of defence has not but been filed.

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The assertion of declare says that on Oct. 19, 2020, Kimmel went into the workplace of Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen, the place she found him ingesting alcohol with one other chief of workers. The assertion additionally notes Kimmel was beforehand in an on-again, off-again romantic relationship with Dreeshen previous to her position as chief of workers.

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The pair within the workplace informed Kimmel they have been going to a different legislative workplace for drinks, to which Kimmel stated she would meet them there after she completed work.

Later that night, the assertion claims Kimmel met the pair at one other minister’s workplace, the place they’d been joined by one other minister, staffer and a former MLA.

“The plaintiff instantly noticed that every one the people have been closely intoxicated,” the assertion of declare reads.

Kimmel was involved about how intoxicated Dreeshen was and inspired him to cease ingesting, after which he “aggressively yelled at her to the purpose of the place she was in tears and a involved bystander intervened,” the assertion alleges.

The lawsuit additionally alleges that on Oct. 21, a gaggle of workers gathered within the then-health minister’s workplace, throughout which period Ivan Bernardo — a principal secretary in Kenney’s authorities — made a sexually inappropriate remark to certainly one of Kimmel’s feminine workers members.

“Mr. Bernardo checked out this feminine’s physique and informed her ‘I haven’t seen you on this ground earlier than as a result of with a physique like that, I’d have seen you!’” the assertion reads.

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The subsequent day, Kimmel reported the incident to the chief of workers to the well being minister, in addition to the premier’s director of points administration, in accordance with the assertion of declare.

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A few month later, on Nov. 17, Kenney’s principal secretary met with Kimmel and allegedly informed her Bernardo “was not going to be fired” and had determined to go away his publish by the top of the 12 months.

Kimmel alleges repeated makes an attempt to have her points addressed have been ignored, earlier than she was ultimately fired this previous February. Kimmel is looking for slightly below $400,000 in damages.

The federal government has responded to the allegations. In an announcement Wednesday, Premier Jason Kenney’s chief of workers stated sexual harassment is abhorrent and has no place in our workplaces or society.

“Any Authorities worker who believes they’ve witnessed or been personally subjected to harassment is strongly inspired to return ahead in order that acceptable motion might be taken,” Pam Livingston stated.

“We can not touch upon the specifics of confidential human useful resource issues, however observe that Mr. Bernardo has not been an worker of the Authorities of Alberta since December 2020.

“The choice to finish Ms. Kimmel’s employment with the federal government was unrelated to the issues contained in her assertion of declare. The federal government will absolutely reply to the allegations in courtroom as acceptable and required,” the assertion continues.

“This authorities has zero tolerance for harassment and takes all allegations of this nature very significantly.”

“The federal government may also provoke an unbiased evaluation of human useful resource insurance policies for political workers, making certain that processes are clear and that every one workers are absolutely conscious of procedures and insurance policies.”

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The assertion goes on to say respect within the office coaching is already obligatory for all authorities staff, together with political workers.

In an announcement, Bernardo stated:

“This matter is now earlier than the courts. It might be inappropriate for me to remark in any method on the statements made inside the declare, as I’ll possible be known as as a witness in any proceedings. I welcome an unbiased and neutral evaluation by the courtroom, and I sit up for offering my testimony.”

International Information has reached out to Dreeshen’s workplace for remark and can replace this story as soon as a response is obtained.

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Responding to a query in regards to the allegations by NDP MLA Janis Irwin throughout query interval Wednesday afternoon, Kenney stated sexual harassment and harassment of any sort is at all times abhorrent.

“We will need to have workplaces and society that is freed from that harassment. Individuals who have been victims of harassment should really feel comfy to return ahead to inform their tales and to see motion taken,” Kenney stated.

“On this occasion, Mr. Speaker, I used to be knowledgeable by my chief of workers late final fall about rumours circulating about inappropriate feedback being made to feminine staffers by that particular person. I used to be assured that motion was being taken and shortly thereafter, that particular person’s contract ended with the federal government.”

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Irwin pressed Kenney on the problem, asking whether or not any matter like this sooner or later shall be investigated by an exterior physique.

Kenney stated “we’re appointing an unbiased evaluation to advise the federal government of tips on how to enhance human assets practices for political workers in order that they know that they’re protected to return ahead to report their experiences to make sure that motion is taken.”

Within the wake of the allegations, a member of UCP caucus is asking on the premier to step down.

In a tweet sent Wednesday, MLA for Chestermere-Strathmore Leela Aheer stated partially “Ariella Kimmel is an unimaginable and brave ladies. Premier Kenney-you knew! Step down!”

On the Alberta legislature later Wednesday, Aheer went on to say “that is failure of management and a failure of being human.”

“When an individual discloses that harassment is occurring, we now have a accountability to comply with via with that and discover out and no less than ensure that that individual is protected inside the group that they’re in,” she stated.

“Premier Kenney ought to step down.”

Kimmel’s lawyer stated in an announcement that everybody deserves a protected work setting free from harassment.

“Political staffers are sometimes compelled to endure in silence and have little to no recourse. It’s incorrect, and it wants to finish. Politicians want to guide by instance. Each political workplace ought to have a transparent sexual harassment coverage and no political staffer ought to ever be fired from his or her job for blowing the whistle on sexual harassment, as was achieved on this case,” Kathryn Marshall.

© 2021 International Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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