Former financial officer at Nishnawbe Aski Police Service alleges she was victim of sexist, abusive behavior

The Nishinabe Aski Police, or NAPS, serves 49 communities in northern Ontario. Photo: APTN

The former head of finance at the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service (NAPS) alleges she was the victim of “sexist, racist and abusive behaviour and gaslighting” by prominent members of the police service, including suspended chief Roland Morrison according to a complaint filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and obtained by APTN News.

In the complaint filed on Jan. 23, 2023, Lori Payne claims she was the “subject of such behaviour while performing due diligence relating to her job duties.”

Payne’s complaint to the Tribunal was shared with APTN News Monday. None of Payne’s allegations have been tested at the tribunal, nor has she filed any legal motions. There is no criminal investigation into Payne’s allegations.

Morrison was suspended on March 8, the NAPS police board announced in a statement, pending an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct. The board did not indicate who was conducting the investigation. It’s not known whether Payne’s complaint contributed to Morrison’s suspension. The board said deputy chief Brad Duce is now the interim NAPS police chief.

Payne alleges that she reported to Morrison that after three years after being implemented, the $1.2 million pay system wasn’t working.

She claims that $1.5 million worth of “vacation pay accrual not being recorded which Chief Morrison falsely claims as surplus, the absence of any real surplus in the budget as repeatedly claims by Chief Morrison, expenditures based upon the false surplus including the lease of a new building not accounted for in the budget and for which Ralph Delarue’s wife was listing agent, and L. Payne questioning the absence of up to $35K in VISA expenditures by the Executive Assistant to the Chief and Deputy without provision of receipts as required for internal controls and the audit and the purchase off books of thousands of dollars in gift cards to be given out randomly to staff.”

The 13-page complaint says any time Payne would “request for proper documentation necessary to do her job or approvals for expenditures in accordance with respective approval limits set by the Board, the Chief would call her down and yell at her for doing so and the Deputy Chief would participate in the abuse.”

According to the complaint, Payne started as the director of finance with NAPS on June 14, 2021 and is “a highly qualified Indigenous Chartered Professional Accountant with significant management experience.”

“Within months, she became the recipient of (alleged) repeated sexist, racist and abusive behaviour and gaslighting by Property Coordinator Ralph Delarue, Chief Roland Morrison and Deputy Chief Darryl Snider who had made false claims of wrongdoing against her in response to L. Payne attempting to do her job per professional standards, CBA best practices, GAAP rules, CRA directives and the terms of applicable collective agreements,” the complaint says.

According to the complaint, Payne was called into an “ambush meeting” on April 8, 2022 to discuss her performance review. She claims Morrison and Snider “interrogated her for over 2 hours, throwing false allegations at and yelling at her throughout.

The complaint says, “Deputy Chief Snider actively participated in the ambush meeting, which left L. Payne in shock, crying uncontrollably and scared.”

Payne alleges that when she asked to respond and explain the “potential risks and policy basis for requiring information, documentation and proper approvals for expenditures, payroll matters, etc., Chief Morrison would yell at her “NO!”, “Is that understood?!” and “You realize I will have to talk to other people in management about you regarding your probation don’t you?!”

The complaint alleges that after Payne lodged internal complaints alleging “sexism and Indigenous lateral violence,” she was suspended and was escorted from the building by officers “without allowing her to take personal items, any explanation or anyone inquiring about her well-being.”

On Nov. 28, 2022, Payne says she was called to a meeting at the Delta Hotel in Thunder Bay with Morrison where she was presented with a “termination of employment” letter that contained “a series of bald lies as to her performance and ordered her to sign it. She asked for time and then to take it home and he [Morrison] finally left her alone to do same.”

According to the complaint, she was fired despite board chair Mike Metatwabin saying she “was doing a great job.”

Payne is seeking a total of $225,000 in damages.

“The continual discrimination and harassment described above led to accumulated anxiety and stress for Ms. Payne during her employment,” the complaint added. “The illegitimate suspension for the sole reason of having filed an internal harassment complaint elevated those resulting impacts and led to insomnia, depression, embarrassment and fear for her future and her professional reputation.

“The manner of illegitimate termination was cruel and abusive, leading to an increase in these impacts.”

APTN reached out to NAPS for comment but didn’t hear back before this story was published.

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