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Bell Media Could Lose Bid to Dismiss Former CP24 Personality’s Rights Case

Bell Media could lose its bid to dismiss former TV personality Patricia Jaggernauth’s human rights case after a Canadian Human Rights Commission report said her complaint raises “serious human rights issues that are systemic in nature.” .

In a confidential report seen by CBC News, the commission said it found “reasonable grounds” to support that allegations of pay disparity and racial discrimination made by the once-familiar face on CP24 may be related to sex, race, color or other prohibited factors. grounds of discrimination.

“The complaint raises serious human rights issues that are systemic in nature, involve significant power asymmetries and potentially lasting harms, and disproportionately affect a historically disadvantaged group,” it says, adding that there is a “strong public interest” aspect to the complaint. Jaggernauth case.

The report recommends that the case be referred to the human rights court if it cannot be resolved within four months. It will now be up to the commissioner to decide whether or not to accept the recommendation.

Bell takes such accusations “very seriously”

A Bell Media spokesperson told CBC News the company respects the commission’s process and will not comment publicly on a report given to the parties confidentially.

“Bell Media takes allegations of possible discrimination or misconduct in the workplace very seriously and is committed to a safe, inclusive and respectful work environment where employees can thrive. If we are informed of a matter in which a “employee did not feel adequately supported. A process is initiated to review and respond when necessary,” the spokesperson stated.

SEE | Patricia Jaggernauth explains why she went public with her fight against Bell Media:

Patricia Jaggernauth explains why she has made public her fight against Bell Media

Patricia Jaggernauth, a former weather specialist, remote reporter and co-host of Bell-owned CP24, first went public with her allegations against the media giant in 2022. As the Canadian Human Rights Commission decides whether to send her complaint to the court of human rights. She tells CBC’s Olivia Bowden that her struggle is bigger than just her personal experiences.

Last spring, Bell asked the commission to dismiss Jaggernauth’s complaint, arguing that he could have filed a grievance through his union. The report rejected that, arguing that many of the allegations stem from before Jaggernauth unionized.

Jaggernauth, a former weather specialist, remote reporter and Bell co-anchor, first went public with her allegations against the media giant in 2022. Speaking exclusively to CBC News, she said her salary was significantly lower than that of her male colleagues. whites, despite performing similar duties, and that during her 11 years at the company, she was “treated like a token and a commodity.”

Her story made headlines at a time when Bell was already facing scrutiny over the sudden firing of CTV national anchor Lisa LaFlamme.

Jaggernauth, half Guyanese and half Jamaican, has said she was denied stable, full-time employment and was sometimes forced to work for weeks at a time without a day off, an experience she says landed her in the hospital with pneumonia because she felt that I had no choice but to do it. she put her job before her health.

‘Vindication and validation’

Seeing the commission’s report was a “moment of vindication and validation that I have been heard and seen,” Jaggernauth told CBC News.

“Unfortunately, people see themselves in this story…in the racism, the symbolism,” he said.

“I just feel like unless you break down the door and kick it in and break these glass ceilings, sometimes if you don’t make a big public protest like this when you can, they’ll never listen to you.”

Bell Media Studios in downtown Toronto is pictured on February 8, 2024. See the CTV building, signs, art installation of the CP24 truck smashing into its wall, and the TO skyline in bg.
Bell Media Studios in downtown Toronto is pictured on Feb. 8, 2024. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Among the much evidence provided in support of the complaint, the report points to a letter written by one of Jaggernauth’s colleagues to the union in 2019 on behalf of three hostesses “that speaks to the pay disparity they have all faced for years.” The report notes that the version of the letter it relied on was a draft.

“This company has heard our legitimate concerns about pay opportunities for women in our newsroom throughout this process. Perhaps they did not hear us loud and clear,” the letter says.

According to the report, Jaggernauth is seeking payment for pain and suffering, intentional or reckless behavior, lost wages and other expenses, as well as “an agreement to end the discrimination.”

But Jaggernauth says the case is not so much about money as it is about change.

And while she’s hopeful a settlement will end her ordeal, she says she’s ready to take her case to court if that’s what it takes.

“I’m here for the long haul because it matters more than just a paycheck,” he said.

‘Pick up the phone,’ lawyer tells Bell

Jaggernauth’s attorney, Kathryn Marshall, says she has represented several clients in human rights cases and that it is rare to see “such overwhelmingly strong support from the commission for a case to have a public hearing.”

And although the report is marked confidential, he says he believes it is up to the individual to decide whether they want to tell their story, adding that it is “fundamental to justice” that reports like these see the light of day.

Lawyer Kathryn Marshall in Toronto.
Attorney Kathryn Marshall, who represents Jaggernauth, says she respects the commission’s process, but believes it’s up to the individual to decide whether they want to tell their story, adding that it’s “critical to justice” that reports like these see the light of day. (Olivia Bowden/CBC)

As for what’s next, Marshall says she and Jaggernauth remain open to hearing from Bell, but so far they haven’t heard anything.

“If Bell has read this report and is listening to what Canadians are saying and is taking the temperature of the public debate that is happening in this country right now about abuse and misconduct in the workplace, racism and inequalities , they should get back to the phone,” he said.

On its website, the commission says decisions are typically made within two weeks of a report, however Marshall says Bell has requested an extension to respond to the allegations, meaning a decision is not expected sooner. of July.

That doesn’t bother Jaggernauth, who says she’s willing to keep fighting for as long as necessary. And while there may now be more diversity in leadership, she says, that’s not enough.

“You look around and the symbolism is so real. Putting black people, putting Indians, putting Hispanics, even the LGBTQ+ community, just putting us there because look, there’s one of you,” he said.

“Are you giving the community that’s actually watching your programming what they’re asking for? You’re not. Do better, Bell.”