BUSINESS

CBC Introduces Helpline For Staff In Wake Of Ghomeshi Scandal

10/08/2015 06:01 EDT | Updated 10/08/2015 06:59 EDT

TORONTO — The CBC has introduced a "bullying and harassment helpline" to hear complaints about inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

The measure is in response to the Rubin report, which lambasted managers for the way they handled alleged misconduct by disgraced radio star Jian Ghomeshi.

Members of a committee working on the report's recommendations announced the phone line in a memo to staff.

The committee says the line will "help ensure a workplace we can all be proud of.'' They also promise no personal information will be shared with CBC/Radio-Canada or anyone else.

Lawyer Janice Rubin launched the investigation after CBC fired Ghomeshi in October 2014, saying there was "graphic evidence" he had caused physical injury to a woman.

The former radio star has admitted to engaging in rough sex but said it was always consensual.

Rubin's report uncovered a litany of alleged workplace transgressions, including allegations that Ghomeshi belittled colleagues, played cruel pranks and, in a "small number of cases," sexually harassed them.

"Unacceptable behaviour such as bullying and harassment will not be tolerated at any level or location at CBC/Radio-Canada,'' the memo, signed by Susan Marjetti, Ginette Viens and Monique Marcotte, said Thursday.

"If it does happen, know that the bullying and harassment helpline is there for your informational and emotional needs. Just as management, HR and the unions are there to act on reports, grievances and complaints.''

The memo also stresses that the helpline is not a reporting channel and that if anyone experiences or witnesses inappropriate behaviour they should report it to their manager, union or local HR representative.

The hotline is one of nine recommendations in the Rubin report, which also suggested a "respect at work and human rights'' ombudsperson and a task force with the union to support younger workers who might be vulnerable to impropriety.

The report, which came out in April, concluded that Ghomeshi's managers knew about inappropriate behaviour but failed to act or hold the former "Q" host accountable.

Witnesses said they were reluctant to complain because of "a lack of trust and confidence in the complaint process ... and that it was expected that they deal with their concerns regarding Mr. Ghomeshi internally."

The hotline comes as Ghomeshi is set to face trial starting Feb. 1, 2016, on five charges, including four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Ghomeshi is also facing one charge of sexual assault that is being tried separately. That trial is scheduled to begin next June.

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