Home Legal News UPEI acknowledges past failures, releases women from sexual harassment NDAs in wake of investigative report from Rubin Thomlinson

UPEI acknowledges past failures, releases women from sexual harassment NDAs in wake of investigative report from Rubin Thomlinson

by HR Law Canada

The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) has publicly acknowledged its past failures to uphold values of harassment prevention and equality, following a report by law firm Rubin Thomlinson.

Shannon MacDonald, chair of the UPEI board of governors, issued a statement on Aug. 10 addressing the issue.

The law firm was commissioned by UPEI’s Board of Governors to probe allegations of workplace misconduct against the institution’s former president and vice-chancellor. Additionally, the firm was tasked with evaluating UPEI’s protocols related to harassment, discrimination, and fair treatment.

The report, received nearly two months ago, revealed severe lapses in creating a “safe, respectful, and positive environment” for UPEI community members. Responding to the findings, the Board stated its unreserved commitment to implement every recommendation proposed.

Release from NDAs

Notably, as an act of redress, UPEI has released Wendy Carroll and Erin Casey from their Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). Both had accused the former president of sexual harassment in the years 2012-2013. Their complaints, initially taken to the PEI Human Rights Commission, ended in settlements, which necessitated the signing of NDAs.

UPEI’s move allows both Carroll and Casey the freedom to share their experiences, aligning with the provisions of Prince Edward Island’s new Non-Disclosure Agreements Act.

Expressing remorse for the university’s past actions, Shannon MacDonald, the newly appointed Chair of UPEI’s Board of Governors, conveyed her deep regrets to Carroll and Casey for the adverse effects of the university’s responses on their personal and professional lives.

Changes in leadership

The University’s leadership has seen significant changes, including the introduction of a vice-president role emphasizing People and Culture. This role is part of the university’s strategy to restructure and align better with the recommendations in the Rubin Thomlinson report. An action plan is underway, promising transparency and accountability.

MacDonald stressed the Board’s dedication to improved governance and creating a listening culture. As part of their commitment to reconciliation, the Board has been engaging with affected individuals, including Carroll and Casey, to understand their experiences and guide future improvements.

Highlighting the ongoing efforts towards healing, MacDonald stated, “We have much trust to earn.” The University is optimistic about using these insights to prevent such incidents in the future, positioning itself as a beacon for other institutions reassessing their internal practices.

See the full statement from UPEI here.

You may also like

About Us

HR Law Canada is dedicated to covering labour and employment news for lawyers, HR professionals and employers. Published by North Wall Media.