A controversy within the Gwich'in Tribal Council is starting to become public

CBC News has obtained a copy of an 11-page letter sent by four former employees. In the letter, they accuse the chief operating officer of bullying and harassment since 2010. The chief operating officer was appointed by the president of the Gwich’in Tribal Council, Richard Nerysoo.

Two former employees said they were fired without cause, while two say they resigned due to workplace bullying.

mi-richard-nerysoo-200-by-300

Former employees accuse Richard Nerysoo, the president of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, of not addressing the bullying and harassment problem at the council. (CBC)

The letter also takes aim at council president Nerysoo for ignoring concerns. The letter states that a year ago, nine employees visited his office to voice concerns about the chief operating officer.

The letter was sent throughout the Gwichin Tribal Council on March 13. It called for a special assembly or a public meeting –  which has not happened to date.

On March 23, Nerysoo wrote an official reply. He said the board will launch an independent review, but said it needs more time.

Meanwhile, those who wrote the letter said they do not have faith that the council can investigate the matter internally. They suggest tribal council employees may have to join a union to get protection.

The former employees who wrote the letter aren't commenting.

In a reply to CBC on May 3, Nerysoo stated:

"The GTC Board of Directors has appointed an independent third party investigator to examine the allegations raised in the letter. The investigation is expected to culminate in a set of recommendations to the Board to act upon.

"As such, and out of respect for the established process, the GTC intends to let the independent investigation run its course before providing further comment. The Independent investigator will have access to all GTC files and information related to this matter."