Report of the Inquiry into Allegations of Employer Misconduct at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Eastern Health Corporation

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Report: MUN professor was harassed and bullied

(Ottawa, ON – March 26, 2008) An independent investigation into allegations of employer misconduct at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Eastern Health Corporation has found that a professor of medicine was the victim of years of harassment and unfair treatment.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) established an independent committee of inquiry following claims by Dr. Cathy Popadiuk, a gynaecologic oncologist at Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine, that after a disagreement arose with her superiors she was subjected to continued harassment and bullying that violated her academic freedom and damaged her professional reputation.

Based upon the evidence in the case, the committee concludes that: “Dr. Popadiuk experienced a pattern of harassment that extended over a period of years: she was placed in an intimidating, hostile environment, has been discouraged by her superiors in carrying out acceptable treatment options she deemed best for her patients, [and] has had her clinical work assessed in a manner that denied her natural justice….”

The committee’s report also warns that Dr. Popadiuk’s experience was not unique, and that during the course of the investigation other individuals within the Faculty of Medicine and the Eastern Health Corporation provided evidence that they too had been treated without respect and had their livelihood threatened by cuts to operating and clinical time.

The report calls on Memorial University and the Eastern Health Corporation to issue an apology to Dr. Popadiuk. The committee also makes a set of other recommendations, including that an effective dispute resolution process be established and that a harassment policy be developed.

The committee was comprised of: Dr. Albert Katz, professor and chair, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario; Dr. Lori J. West, professor of Pediatrics, Surgery and Immunology, University of Alberta; and Dr. Philippe DeWals, director of the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine, University of Laval.