A Toronto television personality has filed a human rights complaint against Bell Media alleging gender and racial discrimination, among other allegations, renewing scrutiny of the embattled broadcasting company.
Patricia Jaggernauth, a weather specialist, remote reporter and co-host on CP24 who recently resigned from the network, has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission saying she was discriminated against on the basis of race, sex and disability.
“Throughout her employment with Bell, Ms. Jaggernauth has experienced a systemic pattern of racism, sexism and discrimination,” reads the complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. “She has been continually passed over for promotions and opportunities and has been treated as a token and a commodity by Bell.”
The complaint says the company denied her a living wage during her time, during which she mainly worked only two days a week, and says Bell has restricted her from freelancing to earn money outside of the company. The stipulation comes despite her technically being a freelancer, the complaint reads.
“Bell has done this while at the same time denying Ms. Jaggernauth promotions she has earned and is qualified for, and while refusing to provide her with full-time work.”
The complaint also alleges there is a racial and gender pay gap in the company, adding there are no permanent Black on-air staff. Jaggernauth, of Guyanese and Jamaican ancestry, says the experience had effects on her physical and mental health and she ended up in ICU and then on an unpaid sick leave for three months.
The complaint says she has suffered stress, anxiety and depression leading to a breakdown on live television during a Bell Let’s Talk Day segment on mental health in January.
The allegations have not been tested at tribunal. Bell Media said in an emailed statement it does not comment on current or former employees.
Kathryn Marshall of Levitt Sheikh is representing Jaggernauth in her complaint.
“Ms. Jaggernauth is relieved to finally be telling her story,” wrote Marshall in an email. “We look forward to holding Bell accountable for this egregious, systemic and discriminatory conduct. We will have more to say later.”
Audio obtained by the Star of a staff meeting at CP24 Thursday revealed Bell Media executives informing Jaggernauth’s former coworkers she had quit and was pursuing a human rights case, but did not go into detail.
“Normally that wouldn’t merit a meeting,” Richard Gray, a Bell Media regional manager, said of her departure. “But we learned late last evening that she has filed a very serious, a series of very serious complaints about her time in the workplace and this is going to become public in the media tomorrow.”
The case is the latest HR problem for Bell Media after it endured a firestorm of public opinion for the dismissal of CTV national news anchor Lisa LaFlamme in August. LaFlamme’s dismissal is still haunting the network.
In September, former Bell Media radio host Jamil Jivani also filed a suit against Bell Media for wrongful dismissal and other reasons, alleging racism.
In a statement of claim in Ontario Superior Court, Jivani argues he was let go for, among other reasons, “Bell expected the Plaintiff to espouse only certain kinds of views — ones that fit a stereotype that Bell thought a member of the Black community should conform to.”
Bell has denied those allegations.
Jivani’s lawyer is also Kathryn Marshall.
Jeremy Nuttall is a Vancouver-based investigative reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @Nuttallreports