TORONTO — Longtime on-air television personality and CP24 weather specialist Patricia Jaggernauth has filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Bell Media, alleging systemic discrimination throughout her 11-year career.
Jaggernauth’s complaint, launched on Wednesday and first reported by CBC, makes allegations of discrimination based on race, gender and disability by Bell, her former employer. The Toronto-based media company owns cable news network CP24. In the complaint, Jaggernauth alleges Bell continually passed her over for promotions and attempted to restrict her ability to freelance outside the company despite never offering her a full-time job.
“She has been used as a token and commodity when it is convenient and beneficial,” the Toronto-based reporter’s complaint reads. Jaggernauth identifies as being of Guyanese and Jamaican ancestry on social media.
“And Bell now wants to own her likeness and her career, despite putting her in a position where she cannot earn a living wage despite giving 11 years of her career to the company.”
In a statement emailed Saturday, Bell Media said it cannot comment on matters involving current or former staff.
“Bell Media takes allegations of any potential discrimination very seriously, and are committed to a safe, inclusive, and respectful work environment where employees can thrive,” the statement said. “If a matter is brought to our attention where an employee did not feel adequately supported, a process is triggered to review and address when required.”
In the complaint, Jaggernauth alleges Bell Media only offers her two days of paid employment per week, and she therefore earned most of her income doing freelance work. Her complaint alleges the company enforced a term this past summer that she could not perform any paid activities outside of the company without management’s approval.
“Bell has done this while at the same time denying (Jaggernauth) promotions she has earned and is qualified for, and while refusing to provide her with full-time work,” the complaint reads. The complaint details a number of positions she was allegedly denied “for no justifiable basis.”
The human rights complaint further alleges an “unsafe and unhealthy work environment” at Bell Media caused her “a myriad of health issues,” including severe stress, anxiety and depression. “Years of long days, short turnarounds, lengthy work stretches and being told to work for weeks upon weeks, non-stop with no breaks,” contributed to Jaggernauth being hospitalized in 2019, the claim alleges.
It says she later experienced a “traumatic” on-air breakdown during Bell Let’s Talk Day. A segment from this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day posted to CP24’s YouTube channel shows five hosts, including Jaggernauth, discussing their mental health.
Jaggernauth begins crying when she opens up about her struggles.
“In this industry, what I’ve found is you get to be in the bright lights, you know, here you have this amazing career, and people think you’re a multimillionaire, you’re so lucky. But want to put my shoes on guys?” the clip shows her saying through tears.
Jaggernauth’s complaint claims she approached her manager weeks later for help, and was offered a company-recommended therapist, who she said she wasn’t comfortable speaking to.
The document also alleges men and women are paid differently at the company, and that Black women are not well represented on-air at CP24. “At Bell, people of colour are cynically used as tokens,” the document reads.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission application states Jaggernauth repeatedly brought up her concerns with Bell management — specifically to Bell’s president and vice-president of news Michael Melling — but that she was not taken seriously. Melling took leave from his job in August, amid the fallout from the ousting of Lisa LaFlamme as anchor of CTV National News, the company’s flagship newscast.
Jaggernauth’s lawyer Kathryn Marshall said in a statement that her client is “relieved to finally be telling her story.”
Jaggernauth did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Tyler Griffin, The Canadian Press