Kamloops mayor investigated for alleged bullying, harassment of city staff

Mayor target of investigation

Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson is under investigation for allegations of workplace bullying and harassment brought forward by city employees.

On Monday, Radio NL reported Hamer-Jackson has been investigated for months by a Vancouver firm contracted by the city after staff members brought forward allegations. The contract was mandated through a resolution passed in-camera by council.

“It has been reported that Mayor Hamer-Jackson is under investigation concerning his negative or adverse treatment of staff. And like all employers, the City of Kamloops has a legal duty to provide a safe workplace for its employees,” Coun. Mike O’Reilly told Castanet Kamloops on Monday evening.

“When it receives complaints alleging that an elected official is mistreating staff, the city is legally obligated to inquire into the matter.”

O'Reilly, who is deputy mayor for the month of June, said the investigation started in approximately February, and couldn’t comment on its status at this time.

“Ultimately, we can say at this time that the municipal corporation has been forced to take extraordinary steps to protect certain members of staff from ongoing mistreatment and a hostile work environment at the hands of an elected official,” O’Reilly said.

“The city must do so in order to discharge its legal duties and avoid potential legal claims. The cost of these legal claims, which could involve very substantial monetary liability, would ultimately be borne by the taxpayers.

“The city is doing everything it can to avoid such a terrible result for the residents of Kamloops.”

O’Reilly noted none of the information in regards to the investigation should have been released.

“Rest assured that we are working diligently and consistently to protect the municipal corporation, and each and every Kamloops taxpayer, in the face of these very difficult circumstances created by an elected official,” O’Reilly said.

Radio NL published correspondence between the investigator and Hamer-Jackson’s personal lawyer, David McMillan, suggesting the investigator secured by the city had difficulty getting the mayor to sit down for an interview or participate.

When reached by Castanet Kamloops and asked to confirm if he had been the subject of such an investigation, Hamer-Jackson was tight-lipped.

“That sounds like a human resources thing — I think that would be something that would be in closed,” Hamer-Jackson said, adding there’s been “a lot” of closed council meetings without him.

“Anything like that, that would be something that would be in closed, you know, so I wouldn’t speak of that.”

McMillan told Castanet Kamloops he also didn’t want to disclose confidential information, adding he has no idea how his emails were leaked.

This news comes in the wake of a particularly turbulent week at city hall.

Hamer-Jackson filed a civil suit against Coun. Katie Neustaeter, claiming she made defamatory statements about him, including when she read aloud a joint statement prepared by city councillors after the mayor made sweeping committee changes in March.

Shortly after news of the lawsuit broke on Thursday, it was found that the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C. opened a file to look into Hamer-Jackson’s removal of personnel records from city hall.

More Kamloops News