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UPEI says 9 harassment and discrimination NDAs cost university $677K

The interim president of the University of Prince Edward Island says it spent $677,578 on nine different settlements that included non-disclosure agreements over the decade covered by this summer’s Rubin Thomlinson report.

Interim president Greg Keefe releases costs after consulting with 2 complainants

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The University of Prince Edward Island says it spent $677,578 on nine different settlements that included non-disclosure agreements over the decade covered by this summer's Rubin Thomlinson report.

The nine NDAs all involved allegations of harassment, discrimination or sexual harassment. Three involved allegations against faculty members and cost a total of $332,875, and six were complaints against the university or a specific university administrator adding up to $344,703.

Interim UPEI president Greg Keefe divulged the details Friday in a statement published on the university's website.

"It's important to note that complainants often incur legal and other costs during their disputes with the university, which may have been paid from the settlement amount," Keefe noted.

The statement said 21 other non-disclosure agreements mentioned in the Rubin-Thomlinson report involved contract disputes, and no settlement costs were given for those.

The report from a Toronto-based law firm followed its wide-ranging 18-month review of complaints and policies at the Charlottetown-based campus after president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz resigned in late 2022.

It concluded that UPEI's administrators had allowed it to become a place where harassment and discrimination against staff and students were permitted to continue, creating a toxic environment.

"I would like to assure our community that the university's current leadership team has not entered into any settlement agreements with a confidentiality clause (NDA) since I became interim president in December 2021," Keefe's post said.

When members of the UPEI community do not live up to our values or processes fail, it is important that the university acknowledge these failures and the harm they have caused, including through financial compensation.

— Interim UPEI president Greg Keefe

"We have also reviewed our policies and practices to ensure they are in compliance with the new P.E.I. law restricting the use of NDAs in cases of alleged misconduct."

At a legislative committee meeting last month, Keefe told MLAs he didn't have numbers for how much the non-disclosure agreements had cost UPEI over the years.

The Green Party's Karla Bernard had asked the interim president what had been spent "to protect the perpetrators" at UPEI over the years.

On Friday, Keefe said the decision to disclose costs now was done in consultation with "Dr. Wendy Carroll and Ms. Erin Casey, the individuals who brought forward allegations of sexual harassment in 2012–2013 against the former president."

They ended up signing non-disclosure agreements about their cases a decade ago.

"Their insights have helped formulate this message," Keefe wrote.

"When members of the UPEI community do not live up to our values or processes fail, it is important that the university acknowledge these failures and the harm they have caused, including through financial compensation."

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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