Tasia was suspended and subsequently dismissed from a Teaching Assistant position at York University after filing a harassment grievance against her Course Supervisor, Linda Briskin.
Starting from approximately February 3, 2009 Tasia's actions, teaching style, and grading were scrutinized disproportionately by the Course Director. After voicing her discomfort in writing, Professor Briskin persisted in violating Tasia's personal space, demanding 24/7 access to her via email and refusing to acknowledge her concerns or address them with her. Following a March 24, 2009 email to Professor Briskin expressing concerns about the situation Tasia was advised by Professor Briskin to direct her concerns to the Undergraduate Program Director in the Division of Social Sciences, Larry Lyons. Although Tasia's email outlined behaviour she considered inappropriate on the part of Professor Briskin, her subsequent meeting with Larry Lyons was focused only on one atypical grade profile produced by Tasia's Tutorial group. With permission, Tasia recorded and transcribed the meeting, which can be read here.
After filing a formal grievance with CUPE3903,[available here] Tasia was not only threatened, misinformed, and misrepresented to her students and colleagues but her grievance was dismissed by the Chair of the Social Sciences Division Richard Wellen. At an April 27th 2009 meeting with Wellen the Chair focused solely grading in the course as well as Tasia's "lack of cooperation." In this meeting Tasia was also encouraged by Wellen to admit that she had done something wrong and give some assurance that it would not happen again. An excerpt from Tasia's grievance describes the meeting with Richard Wellen and can be read here.
Through the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts (Heather Campbell), Richard Wellen proposed Minutes of Settlement which can be read here. The Minutes of Settlement was presented to Tasia as an ultimatum by the Associate Dean, who threatened in an email that if she did not sign them she would be disciplined:
Tasia refused the settlement and a complaint was filed by the Division of Social Science concerning her "conduct" as an instructor[available here] on April 28th, 2009.
On the same day, Linda Briskin sent an email to Tasia's colleagues telling them that she has been removed from the course despite the fact that Tasia has only been suspended. Violating Tasia's right to Confidentiality as outlined in her Collective Agreement, Professor Briskin describes the situation as unfortunate and indicates that it is now in official hands.
Two days later Professor Briskin and Richard Wellen had a meeting with Tasia's students, telling them that she was suspended without pay and also that she had refused to turn in course materials. In addition to violating of Confidentiality yet again, the Professor and Administrator also lied to the students about the situation -- Tasia had never been instructed to return any course material and was still under the assumption that she might return to the course.
Although extensive documentation was provided to the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts Heather Campbell refuting each complaint [that response can be read here] during a meeting on 4 May 2009. During the meeting Heather Campbell utilized sexist language to patronize and belittle Tasia, by calling her a "girl", "mischievous", and disregarding the response Tasia had provided. Despite the fact that the University did not provide any evidence to support their claims, Tasia was disciplined. The letter of discipline, which was on Tasia's record until April 2011, can be read here.
According to the decision Tasia was not able to be “in charge of a tutorial group, or in any way involved with undergraduate student” effectively barring her from teaching in any capacity at York University or engaging in any kind of employment that might involve undergraduate students.
After the original suspension until the end of the school year, Linda Briskin repeatedly emailed the students of Tasia's tutorial claiming that Tasia was withholding their grades and assignments. Threatening them with zeroes despite originally assuring them that their grades would not be altered, Professor Briskin accused Tasia of acting "inappropriately" and of having "seriously irregular" grading practices. Because Tasia was alerted to the situation by her students, she was able to counter Professor Briskin's unfounded accusations:
On February 3, 2010 a mediation took place between the University and Tasia in which the University attempted an unprecedented strategy of de facto disciplinary measures against a grievor. While agreeing to “remove” the offending disciplinary letter from Tasia’s file the University insisted that a new letter replace it. The letter, which can be viewed here, referenced the original letter and detailed the Course Director’s complaints while ignoring the content of Tasia’s grievance. The letter, written by then Associate Dean Narda Razack, also stated that Tasia “appreciated the concerns raised by Associate Dean Campbell with the respect to the allegations in [the] meeting…on May 4, 2009.”
Despite the Union representative and lawyer initially agreeing that settling for such a letter would set a dangerous precedent for future cases, Tasia was pressured to allow the letter so that an agreement could be reached. Tasia was told that her career would be ruined if she continued to fight the University, but she did not accept the settlement.
From April 2009 to April 2011, the University refused to deal with her harassment grievance, acknowledge any harassing behaviour, or allow her to return to teaching. Meanwhile, the University upheld the disciplinary action imposed on Tasia irregardless of the fact that her grievance was filed before the Course Director’s complaint. Tasia’s Minimum Guarantee of funding repeatedly altered without warning, forcing Tasia to continually battle the University for fair pay.
On April 1, 2011 Tasia settled her grievance in mediation with the University. The settlement(which you can read here) retroactively removed the letter of discipline from Tasia’s file, included a cash payment and letter of regret from the University, reinstated Tasia's teaching privileges, and agreed that Tasia will not have to work for or with Professor Linda Briskin again.