Calgary Police Chief suing former HR director who made claims of a toxic workplace

Calgary's Chief of Police is taking legal action against a former employee in order to prevent confidential HR processes and information from being shared to the public.

By Tiffany Goodwein

Chief of Police Mark Neufeld is suing the former HR manager who spoke out publicly about sexual harassment and a toxic workplace at the Calgary Police Service (CPS).

Neufeld is seeking a permanent injunction against Angela Whitney, which would stop her from making any more comments.

He is also demanding that her comments be removed from all social media platforms and media coverage, including the interview she gave CityNews.

In the statement of claim filed in the Court of Kings Bench on March 20, Neufeld argues that divulged confidential information and caused irreparable harm to the CPS.

In the lawsuit Neufeld argues that disclosing the confidential information about employees engaged in the HR process will have a “chilling effect” on employees willingness to trust and participate in the HR processes moving forward, thereby interfering with CPS’s ability to continue to modernize its HR processes.

READ MORE: Former Calgary police HR director taking claims of toxic work environment to commission

The lawsuit notes several social media posts made by Whitney in February, including an open letter to Calgarians where she wrote about being bullied, targeted, threatened and discriminated against.

Whitney also detailed an incident where a sex toy was allegedly thrown in someone’s face during a meeting, and how she says Neufeld handled the incident.

In a statement to CityNews in response to the civil claim, Whitney calls Neufeld the “ultimate bully” and says he is trying to intimidate a “victim of workplace violence.”

“Despite the fear and irreparable repercussions I am experiencing as a result of this lawsuit, I will speak to the Calgary Police Commission (CPC).” she says.

She is expected to speak before the CPC on Wednesday.

Police say they’ve been transparent about ‘workplace culture challenges’

Calgary police tell CityNews the civil action against Whitney is not meant to stop her from sharing her experiences as a former employee.

“We welcome the ongoing oversight of the commission and are working collaboratively to advance HR reform at the service,” reads a statement from a CPS spokesperson.

The service says they have instead asked the court to stop Whitney from publicly revealing details of HR processes and private information of employees.

“The service has attempted to provide the former employee with the appropriate channel to constructively raise her concerns through the Calgary Police Commission, our civilian oversight body,” the statement continues.

“We have been transparent about the workplace culture challenges we continue to face. We openly present to the Commission on these matters.”

Lawyer believes lawsuit could ‘blow up’ in police chief’s face

The chair of the policing committee with the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association says he is not surprised the chief is trying to silence Whitney.

Tom Engel says he is also not surprised by Whitney’s allegations, adding many other women who have worked at CPS have made similar claims.

He says a lawsuit may not be the best course of action.

“Tactically I think it could blow up in their faces,” he says. “They are giving more oxygen to the fire. It is very heavy-handed.”

Engel says he would like to see the CPC launch a public inquiry into these allegations.

In a statement to CityNews, the Commission says it can’t say much.

“The Commission is aware of the legal action being taken by the Service to try enforce a confidentiality agreement with a former employee,” a representative said, in part. “Out of respect for the court process, we do not have a comment at this time.”

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