Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Firm back before human rights commission

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For the second time in less than a year, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission has begun public hearings over allegations of employee harassment against the same respondent.

Three individuals, including one married couple, have combined their complaints against Wayne McConnell and A+ Financial Services.

Last year, McConnell agreed to a settlement in a sexual-harassment case before the commission.

That matter took more than two years to get to the adjudication hearing and was postponed a few times. But McConnell did not agree to a settlement until after the hearing began and the allegations of sexual harassment were made public.

The latest batch of allegations involving the three complainants refers to actions that took place in 2009 and 2010.

McConnell, the president and sole director of A+ Financial, is representing himself at the hearing, a quasi-judicial proceeding presided by independent adjudicator Robert Dawson.

The hearings are scheduled to last through the week.

Isha Khan, legal counsel for the commission, said the allegations include workplace sexual harassment as well as harassment on the basis of disability and of a racial nature.

Khan said the Manitoba Human Rights Code defines harassment as employee relations that are abusive or unwelcome beyond any reasonable standards of propriety.

She said evidence will be brought forward and witnesses will testify regarding conduct by McConnell that was "offensive and abusive."

Among other things, the evidence being brought forward includes threatening and demeaning emails to staff from McConnell, including unilateral decisions to withhold the pay of mortgage agents working for A+.

"It is common in issues of workplace harassment that there are no witnesses," Khan said.

"That is not the case in this matter."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 13, 2014 B6

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