16th April 2024

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Calgary Police Service sues former head of HR over ‘inappropriate’ social media posts

Calgary’s chief of police has filed a lawsuit against the service’s former director of human resources, asking a judge to force her to remove “inappropriate social media posts” that, according to the statement of claim, “divulge confidential information about the CPS and its employees.”

Angela Whitney served as CPS’s director of human resources from 2019 until her resignation in 2021. 

Over the last six weeks, Whitney has posted public complaints — on social media and in an interview — about her time with CPS, alleging the service was “rife with harassment, bullying and discrimination.”

Police Chief Mark Neufeld is named as plaintiff in the lawsuit “in his capacity as the holder of that office and the legal representative of the CPS and not in any personal capacity.”

The allegations faced by Whitney have yet to be tested in court. 

$60,000 severance agreement

The “inappropriate social media posts,” say CPS, are in breach of a $60,000 severance agreement Whitney signed when she resigned in 2021.

During her employment in CPS’s HR department, Whitney was in possession of sensitive information about the service and its employees.

“Disclosing confidential information about employees engaged in HR processes will have a chilling effect on employees’ willingness to trust and participate in HR processes moving forward,” reads the statement of claim filed with the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta last week.

The document outlines details of Whitney’s employment, departure and the social media posts. 

A confidentiality clause

While on medical leave in June 2021, Whitney asked to leave her job with more than $60,000 in severance, according to the statement of claim. 

CPS agreed to the severance, and Whitney signed an agreement that included what the lawsuit describes as a “standard confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses.”

“The employee agrees that she has taken, and will in the future continue to take, all appropriate precautions to safeguard such confidential and proprietary information,” reads part of the agreement. 

“The employee shall not make any public statements including by way of social media or any other form of media statements which may slander, defame or disparage the reputation of the CPS or any of its directors, officers or employees unless required by law.”

The agreement was to be in place “indefinitely.” 

Posts to social media

Whitney also agreed not to commence any complaint, action, claim, appeal or any other proceeding of any nature against CPS.

But the lawsuit alleges that on Feb. 8, 2024, nearly three years after she left CPS, Whitney began posting on X (formerly known as Twitter) and LinkedIn. 

The social media posts divulged confidential information about the CPS and its employees, in breach of the agreement, according to the statement of claim. 

On Feb. 24, Whitney wrote, “I won’t shut up either. Despite CPS cease and desist #bullies.”

Whitney also threatened to publicly post a “response letter” from “that incident” and later published a letter to Calgarians alleging a sex toy was thrown in someone’s face during a meeting as well as details about the ensuing HR investigation.

Journalists, elected officials tagged

Those comments “reveal and threaten to reveal confidential information relating to HR matters within the CPS and have caused … irreparable harm to CPS.”

In the posts, Whitney also tags journalists and public officials and threatened to release further confidential information.

After Whitney’s first social media posts, CPS sent a letter to her requesting she remove the posts and reminding her of her agreement. 

Whitney continued to post on social media and “falsely” referred to the agreement as an NDA, suggesting it had been forced upon her “as opposed to the result of her resignation proposal.”

‘Ageism, sexism, discriminatory behaviour’

A second demand letter was sent to Whitney asking that she remove the “breaching comments” from social media. 

That letter also reminded Whitney that she could take her concerns “in an appropriate, confidential setting” to the police commission, CPS’s governing body.

The comments were not removed and Whitney “continues to make inappropriate posts” about CPS and its employees, according to the lawsuit. 

After the second demand letter was sent to Whitney, she did an interview with Global News and alleged that she “exited a number of individuals for things like ageism, sexism, discriminatory behaviour, bullying, harassing misuse of systems.”

Injunction sought

Whitney said the employee would be fired if they were a civilian but not if they were an officer. 

She also disclosed that she received complaints from 2SLGBTQ+ officers who felt discriminated against while in the workplace. 

CPS is seeking a judge’s order forcing Whitney to remove the social media posts from all platforms and media coverage.

The chief also seeks a permanent injunction preventing Whitney “from making any further inappropriate posts or interviews in breach of the agreement.”

Finally, the chief seeks legal costs.

Whitney has not filed a statement of defence.