Former Mississauga councillor sues City for $686,000 over harassment claims
Published December 7, 2022 at 10:28 am
Former Mississauga city councillor Karen Ras, who abruptly resigned from her post in January of this year, is suing the City of Mississauga for more than half-a-million dollars for allegedly failing to protect her from reported harassment at the hands of a council colleague.
The former Ward 2 councillor’s lawsuit also seeks $100,000 from former Ward 6 councillor Ron Starr for “intentional infliction and mental suffering,” according to media reports citing a statement of claim filed in Toronto’s Superior Court of Justice on Nov. 29.
Starr, a longtime member of council, lost his seat in the Oct. 24 municipal election.
He was accused of and by a City investigation found likely guilty of vandalizing Ras’ SUV several times over a period of some two years while it was parked in a City parking garage. Starr has repeatedly denied all allegations made against him.
Ras’ lawsuit claims more than $686,000 in damages from the City–$500,000 for “bad faith, moral and punitive damages” and $86,303 (10 months’ compensation) for “constructive dismissal.”
A lawyer for Ras alleges she quit involuntarily after Mayor Bonnie Crombie and senior City of Mississauga staff failed on two counts–in preventing the alleged harassment to begin with and then failing to properly investigate the matter after learning about it.
The former councillor’s claim charges that Crombie and City staff only took action in her defence after she had resigned and the matter had been widely reported in the media.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and no statement of defence has yet been filed.
An investigation and subsequent report from Mississauga integrity commissioner Robert Swayze this past summer concluded that Starr had likely vandalized Ras’ vehicle. Such an act amounted to harassment under Mississauga’s respectful workplace policy.
Ras’ lawsuit also claims that Swayze, who is mandated to investigate complaints related to the City’s code of conduct, initially declined to investigate after Ras reached out in September 2021.
It alleges, among other things, he initially told her there was no violation under the City’s code.
The City has reportedly received the statement of claim, but is not yet commenting on the matter.