Nfld. & Labrador·CBC Investigates

Investigator interviewing Mount Pearl staff about Steve Kent's alleged workplace conduct

Mount Pearl city council has called in an out-of-province labour lawyer to investigate chief administrative officer Steve Kent’s workplace interactions with city staff, CBC News has learned.

Kent says he is 'more than happy to co-operate and participate' in HR process

Steve Kent arrives at Coffee Matters on Commonwealth Avenue on Sept. 11, 2017, to formally announce he is accepting the top civil servant job for the City of Mount Pearl. He went on leave earlier this month. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Mount Pearl city council has called in an out-of-province labour lawyer to investigate chief administrative officer Steve Kent's workplace interactions with city staff, CBC News has learned.

Five current city employees say they have either already been interviewed by the outside investigator, or have interviews scheduled.

The employees — who range from front-line workers to management — span the breadth of departments in the organization.

CBC News has granted the five employees anonymity, due to the potential impact that revealing their identities could have on their jobs.

They say morale at city hall is poor, and employees are experiencing mental health issues linked to Kent's alleged improper conduct.

Among the allegations: he has mocked subordinates in front of other staff, berated workers verbally and made comments about job security that they have perceived to be intimidating.

An external investigator is interviewing employees at Mount Pearl city hall about their workplace interactions with chief administrative officer Steve Kent. (Rob Antle/CBC)

The employees who have already been interviewed say the lawyer they spoke with is Halifax-based Lisa Gallivan. 

In her LinkedIn profile, Gallivan says her practice focuses on "providing legal advice on all areas of labour and employment law" and as being "experienced in conducting workplace investigations."

Mayor Dave Aker declined comment, because the situation is a human resources matter, and noted Kent is on a paid leave of absence.

Kent announced in early October, on Twitter, that he was "on leave from work in order to deal with a personal matter." At the time, he did not respond to interview requests from CBC News.

Kent aware 'personnel related process is underway'

When asked on Friday about the investigation, Kent sent an email to CBC News.

"I am aware that a personnel-related process is underway at the City of Mount Pearl," he wrote.

"I have indicated that I am more than happy to co-operate and participate in the same. Given that the process is ongoing and this is an internal HR matter, I do not feel that it would be appropriate or respectful to comment further at this time."

Kent is a former mayor of Mount Pearl and provincial cabinet minister, who also served as deputy premier.

He was appointed Mount Pearl's top bureaucrat two years ago. 

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