Green Party defends Elizabeth May after accusations of workplace bullying

Three former Green Party employees allege that leader Elizabeth May created a hostile work environment by yelling at and insulting employees.

Former employees allege May created hostile work environment by yelling at, insulting employees

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is facing allegations that she bullied and berated former staff. The party said it stands 'firmly behind' its leader. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The Green Party says it is "firmly behind" leader Elizabeth May in spite of recent allegations that she bullied and berated former staff.

The allegations, published in the Toronto Star on Saturday, come from three former employees who allege May created a hostile work environment by yelling at and insulting employees. CBC News spoke to all three employees and confirmed their allegations but also spoke to former employees who said the complaints are overblown.

In a statement, the party framed the allegations as coming from "disgruntled former staff."

"There have been no formal complaints about Ms. May. Sour grapes are unfortunately common with staff who were not retained for performance reasons," the statement reads.

The party also said May is being "held to a different standard than her male counterparts" because she is a woman and described her as a "strong and forthright leader who expresses herself clearly and with passion."

"A man with these qualities is admired for his leadership. A woman is portrayed as overbearing and bullying," the statement said. May has been party leader since 2006.

Some employees want May punished

The employees say May behaved inappropriately and should be punished.

One of the former staffers told the Star that May requested her office be repainted and "threw a fit" when she came back to the office before it was done.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in 2014. She has been party leader since 2006. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

In an interview with the Star, May said that she had been gone on a work trip and when she returned, her office — which was bright red — was the only room in the workspace that hadn't been repainted.

"It is extremely unlikely that a decade-old anecdote about a man's frustration with his office paint job would merit national
news," the party said in its statement.

With files from CBC News

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