Saskatoon

Saskatoon art gallery, former employee reach settlement over 2016 human rights complaint

A human rights complaint filed against Saskatoon's premier art gallery has reached its conclusion, more than four years after the complaint was filed.

Complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of gender filed more than 4 years ago

A human rights complaint filed against Mendel Art Gallery, now known as Remai Modern Art Museum, has reached its conclusion, more than four years after the complaint was filed. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

A human rights complaint filed against Saskatoon's premier art gallery has reached its conclusion, more than four years after the complaint was filed.

In 2016, an ex-employee of Mendel Art Gallery — now known as Remai Modern Art Museum — accused the gallery's then-CEO and executive director of discrimination on the basis of gender. 

Earlier this year, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission decided the complaint against the gallery had "sufficient merit" to receive a public court hearing.

But on Monday, the commission announced the gallery and former employee have reached an undisclosed financial settlement following a final round of mediation overseen by chief commissioner David Arnot.

"Since the complaint was settled prior to the court hearing, no decision was made on the issue of liability. The gallery did not admit any wrongdoing," according to a release from the commission. 

"The settlement agreement ensures that the gallery will implement anti-harassment training for its managers, employees and the board." 

In an emailed statement, the complainant — who CBC News has agreed not to name — said she was very pleased with the training called for.

Paige E. Van de Sype, a spokesperson for the law firm representing the complainant, said the terms of the settlement prevent the complainant from disclosing the agreed upon sum.

"But our client is very happy with the figure," Van de Sype said. 

A spokesperson for Remai Modern said the gallery us also pleased the matter has been resolved.

"The board and leadership are committed to an environment that is welcoming to everyone who visits and works at the museum," the spokesperson said. 

Years-long complaints process 'an outlier,' commission says

Arnot acknowledged the whole human rights process, including a 31-month-long investigation, was not normal.

"The complaint was an outlier for the commission in terms of timeframe and parties' involvement," Arnot said in the release. "Approximately 80 per cent of complaints that come to the commission are resolved within one year of the complaint being made, with nearly 90 per cent of complaints being resolved within 24 months.

"The remaining cases, such as this one, take extra time."

The complaint was filed against the gallery and its former CEO and executive director, Gregory Burke.

Burke, who denied the allegation, successfully petitioned a court to remove him as a party to the file, leaving the gallery alone to face the complaint. 

CBC News has reached out to Burke for comment on the complaint's resolution. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Ottawa, originally from Cornwall, Ont.

Story tips? Email me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca or DM me @gqinott on Twitter.

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