Brampton council makes changes to settlement rules after alleged $60,000 sexual misconduct payoff

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Published August 11, 2022 at 11:03 am

Brampton Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon

Allegations that a Brampton councillor used taxpayer funds to pay off a sexual harassment settlement have spured changes to who foots the bill when councillors land in legal trouble.

City council passed a motion on Wednesday amending its Administrative Authority Bylaw, limiting the city’s ability to use taxpayer funds to settle lawsuits and legal matters dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct.

The change comes following a whistleblower’s allegations that councillor Gurpreet Dhillon settled a $60,000 sexual assault settlement using city funds.

“This bylaw does not apply to the settlement of any claim or legal proceeding that includes an allegation against a member of council, CAO or a Department head, including allegations of sexual misconduct, the apporval of which shall be made by council,” the change to the bylaw reads.

Dhillon was was accused by a woman of sexual misconduct and harassment while on a City of Brampton trade mission to Turkey for the City in 2019. Council unanimously called for Dhillon to resign following a report from the City’s integrity commissioner.

The councillor had his pay suspended for 90 days and Brampton council passed a motion asking for his resignation. But Dhillon refused to step down and has denied the allegations.

A panel of judges also ordered Dhillon to pay $20,000 in court fees to the City of Brampton and an additional $20,000 to the integrity commissioner.

Mayor Patrick Brown – who himself has faced sexual miscondut allegations in the past – tabled the motion to change the city bylaw and has been outspoken about what he called “hush” payments, saying he was “furious” when learning of the settlement from two senior members of City of Brampton staff.

Dhillon fired back at Brown and has threatened legal action, calling the mayor’s allegations “politically motivated.”

Last week, motions which would have released the settlement documents to the public and forced Dhillon to repay the $60,000 were shot down in council.

Brown, Santos, Councillor Harkirat Singh, Councillor Michael Palleschi and Councillor Paul Vicente voted in favour. Councillor Doug Whillans and Dhillon voted against. Councillor Pat Fortini, Councillor Jeff Bowman, and Councillor Martin Medeiros abstained and were therefore counted as voting against.

Other motions to prohibit non disclosure agreements related to sexual harassment allegations and to prohibit settlements with victims of sexual assault complaints without public disclosure and council approval also didn’t pass.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story said the alleged incident took place in 2020, not 2019.

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