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Tribunal dismisses appeal of former Toronto cop who was fired after tweeting workplace harassment allegations

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 panel of judges has dismissed an appeal launched by a former Toronto police officer who was terminated from the service after making allegations of workplace harassment and abuse on social media.

In a decision released in early April, a three-judge panel upheld a prior ruling that found Firouzeh Zarabi-Majd, a former constable with the Toronto Police Service (TPS), guilty of professional misconduct and insubordination, along with her dismissal from the service.

The initial ruling, handed down to Zarabi-Majd in March 2023, relates to over 25,000 posts she made from a Twitter account titled ‘Dirty Shades of Blue.' Many of those tweets contained allegations of discrimination and abuse within the service first levied by Zarabi-Majd in 2018 as part of an ongoing human rights complaint against the Toronto Police Services Board.

At disciplinary proceedings held in March 2023, Hearing Officer Robin D. McElary-Downer called Zarabi-Majd’s Twitter posts “libelous” and “slanderous,” dubbing them an “18-month smear campaign” against the service and board. The tweets, McElary-Downer found, were on course to "not only damage, but destroy" the reputation of both the service and the board.

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

At the appeal hearing, held in January, Zarabi-Majd argued the tribunal's decision casts a "chilling effect" on those with allegations of police misconduct. In it, the panel sent “a powerful message that there is no room for criticism of the functioning of the police service and those in positions of power,” she wrote.

The former officer argued in the appeal that she was the victim of police wrongdoing and that a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder coloured her conduct.

After considering the submissions, the panel upheld McElary-Downer's decision, finding it “necessary in protecting public confidence in policing." To Zarabi-Majd' submission that the tweets were an attempt to raise awareness of "perceived injustices," the panel found that "any alleged workplace harassment did not justify the misconduct."

The panel also found the original tribunal finding to have no impact on future reporting of harassment through appropriate channels.

"We are satisfied, in the circumstances of this case, the findings of misconduct were necessary to protect public confidence in policing. We are also satisfied that the penalty chosen by the Hearing Officer is proportional in the circumstances," the panel wrote.

CTV News Toronto has reached out to lawyers for Zarabi-Majd for further comment. 

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