Tulugak loses sexual harassment case
“Some women feared to be attacked because the Tulugak family is strong”
A Quebec judge has found that the board in charge of the Inuulitsivik Health Centre acted properly last year when they dismissed prominent Nunavik leader Harry Tulugak for the sexual harassment of women and financial impropriety.
Tulugak, a candidate in the last Makivik Corp. presidential election, is one of the negotiators for Nunavik’s new regional government.
He also served as interim director general of the Inuulitsivik Health Centre from Aug. 1997 to Jan. 1988, and, apart from a three-year absence, was a member of the Inuulitsivik board between 1994 and 2005.
In June of 2005, the Inuulitsivik board dismissed Tulugak after they received 11 sexual harassment complaints and allegations that Tulugak had made false claims for remuneration.
In his 23-page judgment, leaked to Nunatsiaq News, Viens quoted a board member as saying that “some women feared to be attacked because the Tulugak family is strong in the community.”
The judgment also cites evidence saying three women, who made written statements alleging Tulugak harassed them, did not want to appear in public to testify because “it is usually said in the community that the woman is the instigator.”
It says one of the sexual harassment victims, a board member, resigned at one point due to “unwanted calls to her hotel room.”
When she returned to the board, “the harassment resumed,” the judgment notes.
The judgment says a board member said Tulugak threatened her position on the board if she did not give in to the harassment, and “even told her that if she doesn’t go along with him, he would tell at the board meeting that she does not accomplish her job well.”
The judgment says Inuulitsivik “complied with the disciplinary procedure” in removing Tulugak from their board, and that board chairman Noah Inukpuk acted “legally and fairly.”
“We also believe that Mr. Inukpuk and the Board of Directors took great care to act fairly towards everybody concerned by the allegations of misconduct against Mr. Tulugak,” the judgment says.
“It is obvious that they wanted to avoid that this matter be spread through the community, thus protecting the reputation of Mr. Tulugak and his alleged victims.”
Viens said the Inuulitsivik Health Centre does not have to pay Tulugak any judicial costs or money for damages related to allegations of misconduct, and that is does not have to reinstate Tulugak as a board member.
For his part, Tulugak won’t have to repay Inuulitsivik $13,233.36 he received in 2005 to cover some court costs.
But Tulugak must now pay all legal costs related to the court action he filed against Inuulitisivik after he received a letter on July 14, 2005, dismissing him from their board.
Tulugak took the position that Inuulitsivik’s board did not have legal authority to remove him, and that, if they did have that authority, did not act legally or fairly.
He also wanted Inuulitsivik to pay his legal costs and pay damages related to the allegations of sexual harassment and financial impropriety.
But Inuulitsivik asked the court to dismiss Tulugak’s motion, saying the board was within its rights to dismiss him and that it was done “legally and properly.”
The court agreed.
Tulugak was appointed to the board in December 2003 for a three-year term and was elected vice-chairman.
The judgment notes Tulugak is a resident of Puvirnituq who has been “actively involved in the social, economic and political development of Nunavik.”
Inuulitisivik provides health and social services to seven Hudson Bay communities in Nunavik and operates nursing stations, a 25-bed hospital in Puvirnituq, a mental health centre in Inukjuak and a group home in Purvirnituq.
According to information presented at a hearing on Tulugak’s motion, the Inuulitsivik board of directors had received 11 complaints about sexual harassment although only three wanted to make a written statement.
As for the false remuneration claims, Viens quoted a board member as saying that Tulugak’s claims “were all unjustified on certain aspects, so the applicant received for each claim more money than he was entitled to receive.”