CHAUDHRI: Kyle Beach story shows bad employer behavior never stays buried

Article content

Kyle Beach was a Chicago Blackhawks prospect in 2010.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

On May 7, 2021, Beach filed a lawsuit against the team, claiming — among other things — he was sexually assaulted by the club’s then video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010. He further claimed he reported the alleged assault soon after it happened and the team failed to address it.

In May 2010, Beach was called up from the Blackhawks’ minor league team during the playoffs as a ‘Black Ace’ to play for the NHL team if needed. He was 20 years old at the time. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup that year.

That May, Beach alleged he was invited to Aldrich’s apartment for dinner and drinks. He alleges that Aldrich told him he had the power to get him onto the Blackhawk’s roster, that Beach had to act like he enjoyed the sexual encounter that was about to ensue or that Aldrich would make sure he never played in the NHL.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Aldrich allegedly played pornography on his TV and allegedly forcibly performed oral sex on Beach before he could escape. Later, Aldrich confirmed a sexual encounter happened but claimed it was consensual.

An investigation report was launched following Beach’s lawsuit and found that Beach reported the assault to three people including his skating coach and mental skills coach in 2010.

The investigation found the Blackhawks did not raise the complaint to HR to conduct an investigation until after the Stanley Cup finals were over three weeks later. Even then, no investigation was conducted and Aldrich was permitted to resign and take part in the Stanley Cup victory parties in the presence of Beach.

  1. Both Hockey Diversity Alliance leader Wayne Simmonds (right) and Maple Leafs player rep Alexander Kerfoot (left) say the team has been united in its determination to make sure the what Kyle Beach went through never happens again. 

    Wave of anger among Maple Leafs in Kyle Beach fallout

  2. Former Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach revealed himself to be John Doe in the teams horrific sex-assault scandal. THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

    Kyle Beach feels ‘relief and vindication’ after Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman loses job over sexual assault mishandling

  3. Kyle Beach, seen here in the lead-up to the 2008 NHL entry draft in Ottawa, revealed he was the John Doe at the centre of the Chicago Blackhawks sex-assault scandal last week.GETTY IMAGES

    SIMMONS SAYS: Still so many unanswered questions after lid blown off Blackhawks scandal

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The report found the Blackhawks violated its own sexual harassment policy, which requires all reports of sexual harassment be investigated “promptly and thoroughly.”

Since the release of this investigation report, the NHLPA Executive Board has voted in favour an independent review of the association’s response to Beach’s case.

In an interview with TSN Beach said: “I know I reported every single detail to an individual at the NHLPA, who I was put in contact with after.”

Whether Beach can prove the encounter was consensual or not, is almost irrelevant. The blaring issue here is the fact the Blackhawks received a complaint of a serious and criminal nature involving one of its employees, a person in a position of power and trust; and did nothing.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

According to the investigation report, following his resignation from the Blackhawks, Aldrich received severance and a playoff bonus and went on to work at other prestigious sports organizations, including a high school.

In 2013, he pled guilty to fourth degree criminal sexual misconduct involving a minor. If Aldrich was investigated by the Blackhawks in 2010, would he have secured employment working in other sports organizations?

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Launching various investigations now, more than a decade later, would make sense if the Blackhawks only learned of the allegations now. Unfortunately that isn’t or wasn’t the case and these half measures now are strategic, defensive plays.

Beach’s story contains many compelling lessons for employers:

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

– Your policies will work against you when you do not follow them. A well drafted policy cannot be a form of window dressing. Policies must not only meet statutory requirements but embody the mandate of your organization.

– Sexual assault is not time limited. Beach launched his case 11 years after the alleged assault. Cases of sexual harassment and assault are not time limited to the standard two years in most Canadian jurisdictions and can be brought years after an employee has left your organization.

– Investigations should be as transparent as possible. Consult legal counsel if a serious complaint is made in the workplace. Failing to conduct a timely investigation, including interviewing all relevant witnesses, could be costly.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Investigations can reveal gaps and weaknesses in your organization. It can unearth unsavory incidents, poor management decisions and bad hires.

One thing is for sure though, conducting no investigation when the occasion calls for it is the biggest weakness of all.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

On to your questions from this week:

Q. I was not able to go to work in person for about a month because a member of my family had COVID-19. When I said I could return my employer said there was no work for me and gave me a layoff notice. This doesn’t make sense as I have worked there for years and no one else has been laid off. Is this allowed?

A. If you have never agreed to being laid off from time to time, then this may be considered a constructive dismissal. Depending on the facts of your case, it could be beneficial to confirm in writing you are available to work full-time, and that you did not agree to the layoff. I would get legal advice immediately to ensure you have the proper advice.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Q. I did not get the vaccine. My employer said in an email that those who don’t get the vaccine have to get testing weekly. I am okay with that. But then I was placed on an unpaid leave for an indefinite amount of time. I don’t want to be kept in limbo. What should I do?

A. If you are willing to comply with your employer’s policy, then your employer should abide by the terms it has created. I would advise you to get a review of your employer’s policy as you may want to seek help getting reinstated to your role. At times lawyers can act as your advocate to return you to the workplace with terms that both you and your employer can agree on.

Have a workplace issue? Maybe I can help! Email me at sunira@worklylaw.com and your question may be featured in a future article.

The content of this article is general information only. It is not legal advice.

    Advertisement

    Story continues below

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

    Share:

    Share on facebook
    Facebook
    Share on twitter
    Twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    LinkedIn
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world