Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ex-Radio Exec Sues CBC Over Ghomeshi Charges

Todd Spencer
A former top CBC executive who became a casualty of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal is suing the broadcaster for wrongful dismissal, saying he was scapegoated for political reasons.

In a statement of claim rejected by the CBC, Todd Spencer says he was shocked when he was fired in April 2015.

"The CBC terminated Spencer's employment for cause for political reasons, and has publicly used Spencer as a scapegoat for the Ghomeshi affair," his unproven claim states.

"CBC fired him to send a message to the Canadian public that the CBC takes matters of workplace harassment seriously."

The Ottawa Sun reports that according to his claim, the CBC told the human resources executive director that he had failed or refused to investigate allegations, and lied or withheld information from management.

Jian Ghomeshi
Things began to unravel for the successful executive in May 2014 when a freelance journalist complained about Ghomeshi's "sexual preferences and treatment of women." At the time, Ghomeshi was the star host of the radio show Q.

Spencer, 45, of Toronto, says Chris Boyce, then head of radio who was also fired, told him about the complaint and he began to investigate informally.

He says he told a higher up that Heather Conway, executive vice-president of English services, was "leading the decision making" on the Ghomeshi file. He also claims top CBC management, including president Hubert Lacroix, were "deeply involved with and aware of" how he was handling the situation.

Chris Boyce
Rubin's report in April 2015 criticized the broadcaster for its internal failings in dealing with the scandal.

Spencer's claim, not tested in any court and first reported by the National Post, was filed in March and seeks a total of $640,000 in lieu of notice, breach of contract and damages, and an unspecified amount for loss of pension benefits.

He first joined the CBC in 1984 as a part-time editorial assistant. He rose through the ranks before leaving in 1997 to work in Hong Kong, joining CNN International. He returned to Canada in 2004 and became CBC's director of radio operations, taking on increasingly higher-level duties before being named to lead human resources in June 2013 for about $260,000 a year.

Ghomeshi was acquitted earlier this year of sexual assault and choking charges. A separate sexual assault charge related to a former Q co-worker was withdrawn this month when he apologized to her in court and signed a peace bond.

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