Labour relations director fired after office romance sours

Two courts agree City of Hamilton was justified in firing employee after he harassed co-worker

While employed as the labour relations director for the City of Hamilton in the late 1990s, Robert Menagh met and became romantically involved with Maureen Wilson, the chief of staff for Hamilton’s mayor at the time. In 1999, Wilson told Menagh she didn’t want to see him again. Menagh, however, continued to show up at her home.

A few months later, Wilson began dating another municipal employee and they moved in together. Menagh continued to harass her at work and at home. In December 2001, Menagh nearly hit Wilson’s new boyfriend with his car near their home. Menagh was charged with dangerous driving, criminal harassment and uttering death threats against the couple.

The city fired Menagh in 2002 for his conduct, claiming just cause and offering no severance. He then filed a suit for wrongful dismissal with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which ruled the city was justified in firing him because of his harassment of another employee in the workplace.

The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court, saying Menagh’s treatment of another city employee and the conduct leading up to and including the incident which led to criminal charges were legitimate reasons for the city to fire him.

The court ordered Menagh, who is now human resources manager for the municipality of Cornwall, Ont., to pay the City of Hamilton’s legal costs, which totaled $223,000 for the trial and appeal.

For more information see:

Menagh v. Hamilton (City), 2007 ONCA 244 (Ont. C.A.).

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