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This article was published 24/8/2010 (2376 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
More than a year after hearings began, a labour arbitrator has ruled against the three chaplains who complained their boss, a priest at St. Boniface General Hospital, bullied them
"The complaints of harassment and abuse in this case were entirely without merit," arbitrator Arne Peltz wrote in his 140-page decision.
Moreover, the non-denominational minister, and the Roman Catholic nun and priest who filed a grievance against Fr. Gerry Ward, should ask for forgiveness, Peltz wrote.
"Rev. (Carlyle) Murrell-Cole, Sister (Jeannine) Corbeil and Father (Roland) Lanoie should search their hearts and reflect deeply on the moral quality of their actions," Peltz wrote.
His accusers had asked the arbitrator for a month off, $10,000 each and disciplinary action for Ward, the director of spiritual care services at the hospital.
In the end, what they received, was chastisement of themselves.
"At the very least, these three chaplains owe the hospital and Father Ward a public apology," Peltz concluded. "After the unrelenting and unfair attack he has sustained, I hope Father Ward can forgive them."
The chaplains are still employed in the spiritual care department.
They had alleged Ward verbally abused them, threatened to undermine their careers, then labelled them as troublemakers.
In his decision, Peltz said their complaints were "frivolous and vexatious" and "blown out of proportion."
Corbeil had testified that Ward referred to the department as a "kindergarten" and a nuclear medicine specialist as "the lady who glows in the dark." She said Ward told her that her size intimidated a chaplain and that her temper had others calling her Attila the Nun.
Lanoie wanted to know why he wasn't getting his work schedule sent to him electronically anymore, Ward told him it was because Lanoie was rude to his assistant. Ward's assistant told the hearing she didn't know anything about it and that she hadn't reported to Ward that Lanoie was rude to her.
After Murrell-Cole, initially one of Ward's confidantes, was elected as the chaplains' union representative, he was removed from his long-held position as the psychiatric unit's chaplain and the office that went with it. Murrell-Cole said he was reassigned to a heavier workload and a desk he had to share with other chaplains.
The hospital defended Ward, arguing the chaplains were unhappy employees resistant to change who were out to get him, and challenged their boss's authority.
In 2008, they filed a grievance against Ward. The hospital's head of human resources looked into their claims and brought in an outside consultant who said the chaplains were the problem, not their boss, the hospital's lawyer Ken Maclean said during the hearings.
Ward walked into a "very troubled workplace... with problematic communication... He was hired to end that discord," Maclean said.
The labour arbitrator, who heard the two sides over the course of a year, said in his award that Ward had his work cut out for him when he was hired in 2005.
"The evidence revealed a picture of an exasperated (spiritual care) Director who was facing intractable conflict including intemperate, sometimes insubordinate conduct by part of his staff," Peltz wrote in his decision.
"The grievers were ungovernable but Ward and (human resources) persisted in efforts at counselling, coaching and mediation, rather than discipline."
Still, Peltz ordered the hospital to pay $2,500 in compensation to Murrell-Cole after he was shuffled out of his position for which he was hired in the psych ward.