MONTREAL (CN) – Quebec’s former delegate general to New York demands $1.2 million from the Government of Quebec for his “hasty and brutal” dismissal in March 2008, which he says was due to unproven harassment allegations filed by a disgruntled employee.
Bruno Fortier – a childhood friend of Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who appointed Fortier to the position in June 2007 – says he waited a year and a half to file the lawsuit so he could analyze the events that led to his termination.
Fortier says in his claim in Superior Court that he took on the “thankless and difficult” role of reorganizing the New York office by eliminating certain positions.
In October 2007, Fortier faced allegations from an unnamed employee that he made a “disgraceful gesture” toward her and a female colleague.
Fortier denied it, saying that the employee falsely accused him of psychological harassment because she was one of three employees about to be fired in the downsizing.
Fortier says two internal investigations concluded that her allegation was “false and unfounded,” and that he was surprised to learn in January 2008 that the inquiry into his relationship with her was not over.
In February 2008, Fortier was called to Quebec City, where Deputy Minister Alain Cloutier told him his reorganization plan could not move forward because it involved firing the woman who filed the harassment complaint.
Cloutier implied that Fortier should “redefine a new position” for the woman, which Fortier says she refused in mid-February 2008.
An outside consultant was called in to examine her allegations. The consultant recommended that Fortier offer the woman a “rewarding” position as a way of “closing the file,” Fortier says.
Subsequently, Fortier says, he was summoned again to Quebec City, and asked to resign. He refused. He says Cloutier ordered him to turn in his diplomatic passport and access cards and was ordered to remain in Quebec City, banned from returning to his Manhattan residence to retrieve his belongings, leaving him homeless for 6 weeks.
He says the woman withdrew her complaint in the summer of 2008.
Fortier’s claims contradict those of former international relations minister Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, who wrote in a letter made public in April 2008 that Fortier was fired because he was “no longer able to provide employees a healthy work environment.”
Fortier said that releasing the letter violated ministerial privacy policies.
Fortier claims he was never given a chance to defend himself in public, and his firing resulted in “humiliating and degrading personal distress,” a “damaged reputation,” and inability to find work.
The delegate general position, normally lasting 3 years, at the time came with an annual salary of approximately $116,000 and a penthouse apartment in Manhattan. Fortier was replaced by Robert Keating. He is represented by LaTraverse Avocats.