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“The workplace is not a place that’s built around the ideals of democracy and justice,” Makela said.

“We would never accept in the criminal justice system that we throw you in jail and once you’re in jail, you sue to get out,” he said.

“Our whole labour law system is set up such that the employer has the prerogative of power. Only once that power has been exercised is it up to the employee, if they are dissatisfied or think they’ve been treated unfairly, to sue,” he said.

All four of the high-profile cases have received intense media coverage, with stories leaked to the press by one or both sides in the conflicts.

That means the public is fed tidbits of information but not the whole story, Eliadis said.

The news cycle operates at warp speed, while the legal process grinds slowly, she noted.

“Sometimes when there’s a legal process going on, the other side can’t comment. So it creates a situation that’s inherently unfair for either side, depending on how the information is leaked,” she said.

MONTREAL, QUE.: SEPTEMBER 25, 2018 -- Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts speaks to guests at the opening of the Cinema du Musee at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal Tuesday September 25, 2018. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 61434 - 5687
Nathalie Bondil dismissed the MMFA board’s claim of a toxic work climate at the museum as “unfounded allegations” and “a smear to hide poor governance.” John Mahoney/Montreal Gazette

In an interview, Bondil dismissed the MMFA board’s claim of a toxic work climate at the museum as “unfounded allegations” and “a smear to hide poor governance.”

Yes, there is high pressure in the workplace, but the harassment that was used to justify the non-renewal of her contract was an isolated case, which was dealt with, she said.

“I never tolerated it,” said Bondil, noting that she oversaw the adoption of an anti-harassment policy at the museum in the fall of 2018.

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