Wendy Noonan, a dispatcher at the Barrie Police Service who waged a long fight for justice after accusing her boss of watching her house and harassing her at work, has reached a settlement with her employer.
Barrie Police issued a statement Thursday afternoon, saying Ms. Noonan and the service have resolved their differences. The confidential settlement came just hours after a public hearing was set to unfold before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
For Ms. Noonan, 43, the settlement comes nearly two years after she launched an internal complaint in March, 2013, against Sergeant Tim Conroy, accusing him of making inappropriate comments to her at work while he was her supervisor and of frequently driving his police cruiser up and down her quiet residential street in Barrie or parking outside her house.
"I feel relieved and ready to move on with my life now," Ms. Noonan said on Friday, declining to comment on the terms of the settlement. Constable Angie Butler, a media-relations officer at Barrie Police, also declined to comment.
In a tersely worded statement, the service said: "Ms. Noonan now has confirmation that her issues have been dealt with appropriately by the Barrie Police Service and its members, including Sergeant Conroy."
Ms. Noonan's ordeal was chronicled in The Globe and Mail earlier this week. She has not received a paycheque since last July, when her short-term disability benefits ran out – she was on sick leave because of stress-related symptoms she attributes to the alleged harassment. Ms. Noonan, who has worked for Barrie Police since 2006, was asking to return to the service on modified duties.
She took her case to the Human Rights Tribunal after Barrie Police argued she was not fit to return to work and urged her to apply for long-term disability benefits.
Her sick leave, she said in an earlier interview, was caused not just by stress associated with the alleged harassment, but also by the sense that she was being punished for speaking out against a veteran officer with 30 years of service.
An internal investigation into her harassment complaint dragged on for more than eight months. Two of her neighbours who often saw Sgt. Conroy's cruiser on their street told The Globe and Mail they were not interviewed by Barrie Police. And Ms. Noonan said in an earlier interview she was not shown a copy of the report into her complaint or given enough assurances that her concerns were addressed.
The tribunal hearing might have shed light on how Barrie Police dealt with her complaint against Sgt. Conroy. Inspector Mark Sheffer, who wrote the internal report, was at the hearing under subpoena by Ms. Noonan's lawyer.
But just as the hearing began, lawyers for Ms. Noonan and Barrie Police went to private mediation at the urging of tribunal vice-chair Sheri Price.
Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood, who was at the tribunal hearing, was asked by The Globe if she has any concerns that Ms. Noonan's case serves as another example of the difficulties female employees can face when they complain about a male supervisor.
"We have best practices," Chief Greenwood said. "And those best practices, policies and procedures were followed."