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EXCLUSIVE: Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly breached harassment policy

City of Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly says council has adopted the affordable housing incentive program in an attempt to address the desperate need that exists in the city. The program includes a number of recommendations.
City of Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly poses for a photo in his office at City Hall in this file photo.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly will have to undergo workplace sensitivity training after an investigation found he breached the capital city’s harassment policy.

A document The Guardian obtained, which was signed by Mayor Clifford Lee, detailed an investigation into six formal complaints City of Charlottetown public works superintendent Mike Bradley filed against CAO Peter Kelly.

Those complaints were made under the city’s harassment policy, and Patsy MacLean of HR Associates was brought in to do an external investigation.

In an unusual move, MacLean added a seventh complaint after reviewing the allegations and interviewing Bradley.

Bradley’s complaints included allegations Kelly imposed unreasonable discipline on him, he imposed discipline without cause on two occasions and he attempted to demote Bradley into a foreman role.

The complaints also included allegations Kelly directed an improper investigation into Bradley’s work, that Kelly committed harassment and bullying at a meeting on May 16, 2017, and that there was a breach in confidentiality in relation to the discipline and an attempted demotion against him.

MacLean’s complaint considered whether all the factual findings established a course of conduct that constituted harassment.

In all but two of the complaints, MacLean found there was no breach of the city’s harassment policy.

After her investigation, MacLean found Kelly did breach the policy by improperly using his power and authority related to Bradley’s demotion in such a way that it interfered with his career.

MacLean found there were procedural flaws in how the proposed demotion was carried out, although a planned restructuring never happened because it didn’t work with the collective agreement.

Bradley was never demoted.

In the final allegation, which MacLean added, she found Kelly breached the harassment policy by improperly using his power and authority in a way that undermined Bradley’s job and interfered with his career.

“The public can be assured that Charlottetown city council remains confident in the decisions of CAO Peter Kelly.”
-Statement from Charlottetown City Hall

The document The Guardian obtained said MacLean concluded Kelly didn’t target Bradley as alleged in the events that happened, but she did note procedural flaws in relation to them.

Those included failure to provide notice of discipline and Voluntary Association of City Employees (VACE) representation as required by the collective agreement.

VACE formerly represented city employees before they joined the Union of Public Sector Employees (UPSE).

Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly, left, and Mayor Clifford Lee are shown in this file photo.
Charlottetown CAO Peter Kelly, left, and Mayor Clifford Lee are shown in this file photo.

The document said MacLean didn’t find Kelly had an “improper intent” or acted for an improper purpose, such as trying to get Bradley to quit.

MacLean did find a pattern of acting with haste without regard for proper procedures or past practice, the document said.

“It was on this basis that the investigator concluded that the respondent’s (Kelly) actions showed over time that his use of authority was improper.”

The document said council reviewed the matter and accepted the findings on all seven grounds.

As a result of the investigation, Kelly will have a formal written warning permanently on his personnel file.

Kelly will undergo workplace sensitivity training with a focus on his communications and interactions with city staff.

He will take training on education and assistance in understanding how his words and actions can affect others in the workplace.

Kelly will also undergo training in a detailed review of the city’s collective agreement and human resources related policies to ensure procedural requirements and fairness is maintained in all dealings with staff.

The Guardian attempted to reach Kelly and Lee but was unsuccessful.

A statement from the city said that as with all human resources and personnel issues, the city would not provide any comments pertaining to confidential matters.

“The public can be assured that Charlottetown city council remains confident in the decisions of CAO Peter Kelly.”

The Guardian also contacted mayor-elect Philip Brown, who said he couldn’t comment because he hadn’t seen a report into the matter.

Brown said he would be following up on it once he is in office.

Attempts to contact Bradley were unsuccessful.

Twitter.com/ryanrross

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