In a lawsuit against the Alberta premier’s office, a former employee charges sexual harassment and alcoholism.
According to a former head of staff in the Alberta legislature, her departure was related to raising concerns about conduct issues.
A former member of the Alberta legislature’s staff is suing the premier’s office, alleging she was subjected to a toxic workplace atmosphere and was terminated in retaliation for speaking up about the issues she observed.
Ariella Kimmel’s lawsuit alleges sexual harassment and excessive drinking by ministers and staff in legislature offices, as well as charges that top personnel in the premier’s office created rumours about her, ultimately leading to her removal.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation received a copy of the legal document. None of the charges have been established in court.
Kimmel served as the minister of jobs, economy, and innovation’s chief of staff from August 2020 until her dismissal in February 2021. Since May 2019, she had been a member of Jason Kenney’s UCP government.
Kenney’s office serves as the governing office for the ministries. Kenney is not mentioned as a defendant in the litigation.
According to the statement of claim, Kimmel discovered Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen drinking with a chief of staff in his office in mid-October 2020. They later convened in another minister’s office, Kimmel reported, when the politicians and staff seemed to be very drunk.
According to her account, she voiced concern about Dreeshen’s inebriation throughout the event and urged him to abstain from alcohol.
Following their departure from the suite, the lawsuit claims, the minister questioned her about the intervention and “aggressively shouted at her to the point of tears, at which a concerned spectator interfered.”
Kimmel had an on-again, off-again relationship with Dreeshen prior to her position as chief of staff that year.
Allegations of sexual harassment in the minister’s office
Two days later, another group of staff members gathered for drinks in the office of the minister of health. That night, Ivan Bernardo, the minister’s primary advisor, is accused of making a sexually improper remark to a female member of Kimmel’s staff.
“I haven’t seen you on this floor before because with that body, I would have noticed you,” Bernardo allegedly stated in his statement of claim.
Bernardo was also known to be sexually inappropriate with other women in the building, according to the statement.
The following day, Kimmel informed Chris Thresher, the health department’s chief of staff, and Matt Wolf, the premier’s director of problems management, of the exchange.