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Toronto cop, fired for tweeting confidential info and making vulgar comments, has dismissal upheld

by HR Law Canada

The firing of a Toronto cop, accused of inappropriate social media use where she posted confidential police information and made derogatory comments about her superiors and colleagues, has been upheld by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission tribunal.

The officer, Z.M., had been on leave since 2018 due to PTSD and claimed that she had been a victim of workplace sexual harassment.

Z.M.’s offences, spanning from October 2020 to April 2022, included defying orders to attend interviews and tribunal hearings, and the inappropriate social media use.

“She posted on Twitter the names of TPS officers after being ordered not to. In the context of her discreditable conduct, she posted on Twitter confidential police information and offensive and racist material, and tweeted inappropriate, libelous, vulgar, degrading comments complete with obscenities toward the Chief, the Police Services Board (the Board) and others,” according to the Hearing Officer who summarized the misconduct.

“Lastly, she sought out the location of another officer and refused to leave the said officer’s mother’s property, despite numerous requests to do so, causing the mother to eventually call 911,” it said.

Those actions, and refusal to attend interviews and hearings, culminated in her dismissal following a failure to resign within a stipulated seven-day period.

The appellate proceedings, which upheld the initial rulings, noted several attempts by Z.M. to seek adjournments on health grounds, which were rejected on the basis of her active engagement in other legal and social media activities. This was viewed as contradictory to her claims of being medically unfit to participate in disciplinary hearings.

In addition to rejecting the adjournment requests, the tribunal found no merit in Z.M.’s procedural fairness complaints, affirming that the disciplinary proceedings were conducted justly. The decision to proceed with the hearing in her absence was deemed necessary due to her explicit intentions, conveyed through social media, to disregard tribunal summons.

The tribunal said it was “satisfied” that findings of misconduct were necessary to protect public confidence in policing and that termination was the appropriate penalty. It also rejected an argument that the proceedings created a “chilling effect” on the expressive rights of others.

“The PSA, the Code of Conduct and TPS regulations clearly set out limits to how officers can express themselves,” the tribunal said. “The Commission does not accept that these proceedings, limited to these exceptional circumstances, will have a negative systemic effect on officers’ expressive rights other than limits imposed in the PSA and TPS standards. Nor will it impact the reporting of harassment through appropriate channels.”

The finding of guilt and the penalty imposed by the Hearing Officer was upheld.

For more information, see Zarabi-Majd v. Toronto Police Services, 2024 ONCPC 29 (CanLII).

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