HSR gets management shakeup after sexual harassment scandal

The city’s director of transportation will get to keep his title, but will lose responsibility for Hamilton’s transit system after a damning sexual harassment case at the city last year.

Director of transportation: I 'should have taken it more seriously from day one'

There'll be a shakeup in senior management at HSR following a sexual harassment suit settled last year. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The city’s director of transportation will get to keep his title, but will lose responsibility for Hamilton’s transit system after a damning sexual harassment case at the city last year.

Don Hull will remain in his post, but will focus on duties outside HSR. The city will hire a director specifically for HSR, and replace another senior manager in the coming weeks.

City manager Chris Murray made the announcement following a lengthy closed-door meeting with city council Wednesday evening.

The shuffle is part of the fallout of a labour relations adjudicator’s report last fall, which showed a female HSR staff member was sexually harassed by a supervisor for years. The harassment included lewd emails, unwanted touching and insults that included calling her an “Irish skank.”

The harassment went on for years, the adjudicator found. The city did too little to help the woman, the decision said, and failed to take “even the most basic substantive measures to protect her.” It also cited a prevalent culture of misogyny at HSR. The woman was awarded $25,000.

Senior officials at HSR also gave the supervisor, Bill Richardson, glowing references, helping him get a job with Guelph Transit. That agency dismissed him after learning of his harassment case.

Hull acknowledged in a media conference last year that he “should have taken it more seriously from day one.” With Wednesday’s change, Hull will focus on other aspects of his work, including transportation planning and mobility.

Hull is an expert in his field and has worked on many pivotal city reports, including the Rapid Ready transit plan, Murray said.

“Don is a very well respected transportation professional in a national context.”

Murray wouldn’t give details on the management position that will be “posted in the coming weeks,” only saying that there will be changes.

There will be additional staffing changes, he said, but he wouldn’t get into details. Personnel discussions about identifiable individuals at the city are kept behind closed doors, he said.

Some members will see this as a promotion for Hull, said Eric Tuck, vice-president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 107. But he understands that Hull is valuable, particularly for future rapid transit negotiations with the province.

“I can understand the city wanting to retain him where they are right now,” he said.

“Certainly his technical skills are a good thing.”

Murray wouldn't comment on if Hull's salary will remain the same. Hull earned $160,535.06 in 2013.

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