'Racist' bus mechanic no longer with city after scathing rights report
Published Wednesday, May 30, 2018 3:23PM ADT Last Updated Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:11PM ADT
HALIFAX -- A Halifax bus mechanic who allegedly created a poisonous work environment by terrorizing his co-workers with racial slurs and harassment no longer works for the transit service.
City spokesman Nick Ritcey says Arthur Maddox is no longer with Halifax Transit but he declined to discuss how or why he left his position, citing "confidential personnel matters."
Maddox's tenure with the transit service, which started in 1988 and included a brief termination in 2001, ended after a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry decision found his workplace behaviour to be "disrespectful, aggressive and racist."
Lynn Connors, independent board chairwoman, said in her decision released publicly on Tuesday that Maddox bullied his co-workers and intimidated them into silence.
She said the irony did not escape her that Maddox continued to be employed with Halifax Transit while his victims had all left in part due to his behaviour and the "poisoned work environment" he created.
The allegations against Maddox and his small entourage included a message scrawled on the men's bathroom wall, which said "all minorities not welcome; show you care, burn a cross." It was signed by "a member of the Baby Hitler."
In another instance, the white bus mechanic who lodged the rights complaint arrived at a social event with his African Nova Scotian wife to hear Maddox allegedly say loudly: "We don't want those kind of people here."
Maddox is also quoted as saying "racism should be a law that you can shoot somebody and get away with it."
After he allegedly threatened a black mechanic with physical violence, Maddox was fired in 2001.
However, he filed a grievance through the union and was reinstated a year later. The city would later say that "its hands were tied" by a sunset clause in the collective agreement
Maddox allegedly blamed the complainant for his dismissal and tried to hit him with a bus, according to the rights decision. The complainant reported the incident to the maintenance yard supervisor, but it was not investigated and Maddox was not disciplined.
Connors said Maddox "took an opportunity to frighten" the complainant and was "trying to terrorize" him.
She said Halifax is "vicariously liable" for the actions of its workers and that it did not do enough to curb inappropriate behaviour.
Jacques Dube, chief administrative officer for the municipality, issued an apology Tuesday to the complainant and his family. He said the city is committed to a harassment-free workplace where all people are treated with dignity and respect.
A hearing is set for Monday to discuss the awarding of damages or assignment of mandated training.
The complaint regarding racism and harassment at the transit yard was filed with the provincial human rights commission nearly 12 years ago, in July 2006.
Equity Watch, a Halifax-based group dedicated to employment equity, is calling for an independent public inquiry into what it calls a long-standing pattern of bullying, harassment and discrimination at the municipality.
The group points to other examples of racism and sexism at the city, including the case of firefighter Liane Tessier. She faced systemic gender discrimination, but her concerns were ignored by the municipality and dismissed by the provincial human rights commission before she eventually received an apology last December.
Earlier this month, a group of African Nova Scotian city employees demanded action on a confidential report from two years ago that found racism in the workplace. Raymond Sheppard, a spokesman for the group, told reporters that "the anti-black racism and discrimination within HRM is at 1950s levels."
"We believe that these cases are only the tip of the iceberg," Equity Watch spokesperson Judy Haiven, a retired management professor at Saint Mary's University, said in a statement.
"Apologies, payouts and promises, and claims to want to do better don't cut it any more. The residents of HRM and equity-seeking groups have a right to know what's really going on and how we're going to solve this systemic problem."
The group is calling for an independent public inquiry outside of the human rights commission, with its "dilatory, bureaucratic and uncaring approach," Haiven said.