It was March 15th and a female OC Transpo bus operator needed to take a break between her split shifts.  So she went to her car parked in the lot of the OC Transpo depot at 1500 St. Laurent Boulevard. 

“While I was sleeping in my car I heard something hit my windshield.”

The woman, who CTV has agreed not to identify, wasn’t surprised when she noticed it was a banana peel on top of her car.  She had noticed rotten apple cores on her windshield on the two previous days.  She wondered who was leaving old fruit on her car, and why they’d want to do it.  This time she says she caught the fellow co-worker, another driver, in the act.

“An operator was walking by so I opened my door and I asked him, what are you doing?”

She said he started laughing at her.  He was a man she didn’t know.  So she grabbed her phone, followed him and tried to take a picture of him as proof to show management.

“In an effort I guess to smash my phone, he pulled me to the ground and he dragged me to rip my phone out of my hands.”

The woman managed to hold on to her phone and said the man ran away.

“So I got up and I started chasing him,” she says trying to get him to stop, “to get him on video so I could identify him.”

“Once I got him on video I went up straight to management and I reported it.”

She says the ordeal was traumatic and out of the blue.  She says the incident left her so shaken she went on stress leave for a month.  She was told by the union that the driver was suspended for ten days.  She was told his motivation to throw the fruit was because he didn’t like the look of her license plate that said “princess” on it. But when she returned to work, she says he was back on the job too.  So she contacted her manager asking the man to be moved. 

In a letter, obtained by CTV, from an OC Transpo Program Manager, the woman is told “I did consult with Labour Relations and they suggested that because you have requested not to work in the same location as him, then in theory, you would have to make the adjustment.”

The woman said that answer wasn’t good enough.  She felt she was the victim and wondered why she would have to be the one to adjust her work.  That’s when she decided to file a report about the incident with Ottawa Police and took her concern straight to OC Transpo General Manager John Manconi.

In an interview with CTV, Manconi warns there are two sides to this story.

“Here's what I will say, a lot of those statements are incorrect,” Manconi says.

“There was discipline action, I'm not going to get into what disciplinary action occurred, there was some fault on both parties in terms of the altercation.”

“The words dragged across the parking lot I think we need to be very careful with that and again, I’m not going to get into the specifics of what has occurred,” Manconi tells CTV,

“I can tell you that the employee that was involved, the person who was harassed, I personally met with her on multiple occasions and we are accommodating all the requests.”

The woman tells CTV her only role was chasing the man and grabbing him by the shirt in order to identify him.

“So if that makes it my fault then I’ll take the blame because this could be prevented in the future from happening to somebody else,” she says holding back tears, “but I can’t guarantee that because he’s back at work.”

As for why the manager told her she would have to be the one to adjust her job,

“Nobody needs to change their job,” Manconi responded,

“If there is a problem individual that is not conducting themselves appropriately and causing that not to be the case they will be dealt with. In fairness to everyone there are two sides to every story.”

Police have laid no charges in the incident.  The woman says she was never disciplined at work.  Coming forward was a difficult decision.  She says watching her colleague, Jamie Bailey, the first female OC Transpo bus operator to come forward to CTV with allegations of sexual assault and harassment at work, come forward made her realize she too needed to speak up.

“The point is stopping this from happening in the future.”

“As a woman you’re a piece of meat, that’s basically what you are and people think it’s so easy to speak up but it’s not,” she says.

“People can make your work life a living hell.”

She says she just wants to feel safe at work.

“I should feel comfortable sitting in the workers lounge eating my lunch, or if I want to nap in my car I should feel comfortable to know that I can do that.”