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Toronto cop who tweeted about alleged workplace sexual harassment to be fired

A Toronto Police Services logo is shown at headquarters, in Toronto, on Friday, August 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov A Toronto Police Services logo is shown at headquarters, in Toronto, on Friday, August 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
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A Toronto police officer who made allegations of sexual harassment within the service will either have to resign within seven days or be fired after being found guilty of misconduct and insubordination.

The eight charges against Const. Firouzeh Zarabi-Majd relate to numerous tweets that she made over an 18-month period, as well as her refusal to participate in an investigation led by the Professional Standards Unit and a separate incident in which she allegedly refused to leave the home of another officer.

Robin D. McElary-Downer, a retired deputy chief with the South Simcoe Police service, issued her ruling on Tuesday, calling the “nature and seriousness” of Constable Zarabi-Majd’s misconduct “weighty and extremely aggravating.”

Zarabi-Majd did not attend the hearing, indicating through her lawyer that she was unable to participate due to post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Over an extended period of time, she (Zarabi-Majd) levelled libelous, slanderous vulgar tweets against the TPS and parties therein. Her tweets were untrue. She accused the TPS and others of silencing women, and yet she refused to participate in interviews with the PRS investigators,” McElary-Downer wrote. “She literally stomped all over her Oath of Office and Oath of Secrecy. When a police officer demonstrates they lack the fortitude to live by their oaths, they have annulled their usefulness to society and their police service.”

Zarabi-Majd filed a complaint with Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal in 2018, in which she made a series of allegations about discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

In her decision, McElary-Downer did not directly address those allegations.

Instead, she took issue with what she called an “18-month smear campaign against the TPS and Board” that began in October 2020 and lasted until April 2022.

She said that during that period, Zarabi-Majd posted “hundreds” of “inappropriate vicious slanderous tweets.” She said that at least 50 of those were aimed directly at then Chief James Ramer.

“Constable Zarabi-Majd’s misconduct undeniably placed the public’s confidence and trust in their Chief of Police, the Mayor and members of her Board, to name a few, on shaky ground. She accomplished this by levelling slanderous accusations of patriarchy, discrimination, racism, and homophobia. She implicated they covered up sexual assaults, protected perpetrators and silenced women and in doing so, destroyed their mental health and careers,” McElary-Downer wrote. “In my view, being a woman and wearing a police uniform lent credibility to her critique of her employer and her serious allegations. Constable Zarabi-Majd compromised the community’s trust in their police leadership. She caused irreparable damage to the Service as a whole and to those who lead it. This cannot be tolerated.”

McElary-Downer wrote in her decision that Zarabi-Majd “blatantly defied” lawful orders to participate in an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace and also refused to participate in the disciplinary process at the tribunal.

McElary-Downer said that while Zarabi-Majd indicated that post-traumatic stress disorder was behind her decision not to participate in either process, she took issue with whether that qualifies as a “lawful excuse” and said that “she simply wants to avoid being held accountable.

Zarabi-Majd's defence lawyer Melanie J. Webb, however, said in her arguments that “there are exceptional circumstances” at play as her client “is a victim and survivor of serious sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.”

Webb pointed out that Zarabi-Majd “has not been accused of concocting false allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment” and suggested that there is “corroboration to at least some of her claims.”

She also likened her actions on Twitter to those of an “advocate and whistleblower” and said that Zarabi-Majd “would not have been brought to this place” had it not been “for the failure to appropriately handle the harassment and the abuse and the toxic work environment that she experienced.”

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