Dean fired amid co-worker complaints at London campus sues Fanshawe College for $950K

Dean fired amid co worker complaints at London campus sues Fanshawe

An ex-Fanshawe College dean has launched a $950,000 wrongful dismissal lawsuit against his former employer, alleging the school violated its own policies in investigating co-worker complaints against him.

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Nord Mensah was the former top administrator at Fanshawe’s south London campus who was later appointed dean of the faculty of creative industries. He is suing the college for $200,000 in damages, amounting to 15 months pay in lieu of notice over his with-cause termination in April 2022.

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He is also seeking $500,000 in aggravated damages and $200,000 in punitive damages, a rare court award designed to punish defendants or deter similar behavior in the future.

“The plaintiff (Mensah) has suffered tremendous damage to his dignity, self-respect, career, reputation and health,” the statement of claim alleges. “The defendant’s (Fanshawe’s) actions were harsh, deliberate, and a marked departure from the ordinary standards of decent behavior.”

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In his statement of claim against the college, filed in London court March 22, Mensah is also seeking $50,000 in damages for alleged violations to Ontario’s Human Rights Code and unspecified amounts for lost contributions to his pension plan and tuition program for his family members.

Mensah received a call from Fanshawe’s chief human resources officer on March 31, 2022, putting him on administrative leave effective immediately regarding “a number of very serious allegations,” the statement of claim alleges.

North Mensah.

At the April 4, 2022 meeting where he was terminated, the college alleged Mensah had made “unwelcome comments” to a co-worker twice, the statement of claim contends. The college told Mensah one comment about her hair was made in a virtual meeting and, in another, Mensah made an offer to “share an unopened bottle of expensive liquor when he retired,” the lawsuit alleges.

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In his statement of claim, Mensah claims the college did not follow its own policies in its investigation of the workplace harassment allegations. He was not provided with any details of the allegations, was not invited to participate in the internal investigation or respond to the accusations against him, the lawsuit contends.

The statement of claim, like statements of defense filed in response, contains allegations not yet tested in court.

Fanshawe College has not yet filed a statement of defense in the lawsuit.

In an emailed statement, college officials declined to comment on Mensah’s allegations, citing human resources privacy concerns.

“We also wouldn’t comment on any matter currently before the courts,” Fanshawe College officials said.

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Mensah’s lawsuit also alleges that, months after his termination, the college informed him that two additional unnamed employees had brought forward complaints about his conduct.

Fanshawe alleged one of the complainants said Mensah’s “friendliness crossed the line” but the college didn’t provide specific details, the statement of claim contends. The college alleged a second unidentified complainant felt Mensah “looked at her inappropriately” and used “unprofessional language” at work, the lawsuit claims.

Mensah had been with Fanshawe College since 2016 until his April 2022 termination. His 2019 promotion to associate dean of Fanshawe College’s south London campus, at the site formerly occupied by Westervelt College, attracted public criticism.

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Mensah, a former Canadian Armed Forces officer at a base in Victoria BC, pleaded guilty in a military court in December 2017 to conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline. The charge stemmed from a month-long sexual relationship Mensah had in 2015 with a woman directly under his supervision.

He received a reprimand and $2,500 fine.

At the time he was appointed to the associate dean post, Fanshawe College defended the promotion, saying he was aware of Mensah’s prior military conviction and considered the matter to be “complete and not reflective of his position at the college.”

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