Training taught that adults oppress ‘children, adolescents and elders’
Sheridan College upheld its decision to fire an employee who had publicized the school’s “antiracism” training to the media, despite his union’s wrongful termination complaint.
The Ontario, Canada-based college fired Tom Hipsz, an athletics director for the college, in April 2021. It upheld its decision on Dec. 13, 2022, according to an arbitration document.
The union had argued that Hipsz was “wrongfully terminated from employment by Sheridan College…without just cause, and in contravention of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the collective agreement,” according to the document.
However, “the College’s decision to terminate Mr. Hipsz’ employment was not excessive in all the circumstances,” arbitrator Gail Misra determined.
During his “termination meeting” in April 2022, Jim Flack, Hipsz’s boss, said that an investigation had been completed showing Hipsz had shared the “anti-racism” training with Rebel News, “with the intention of creating public backlash against the training and Sheridan,” according to the document.
Hipsz had also “sought to undermine the College’s strategic direction in ways that amounted to sabotage and gross misconduct.”
The College Fix reached out to Sheridan College on January 11 with questions regarding the dismissal. A media representative responded with a link to an official statement regarding the training to which Hipsz had objected.
The Fix also reached out to Flack on Jan. 16 to confirm why Hipsz was fired, if he had had a good record as an employee, and why she believed the arbitration was unsuccessful. Flack declined to comment.
“The Foundations for Equitable Practice is one of many mandatory training modules that are required for members of our community and covers three overarching themes: human rights, unconscious bias, and oppression and racism,” the document stated. “This training is proprietary and not publicly available as its contents are a component piece of Sheridan’s work with external organizations in this space.”
Hipsz had distributed images of several slides from the training to Rebel News, a conservative Canadian news website, in February 2021. The images subsequently appeared in a Feb. 25 article and video on the site titled “Why Whiteness? Leaked college diversity training claims white people ‘dominant’ over other races.”
“A former staff member at Sheridan College in Mississauga, Ontario, has provided documents from the college’s ‘diversity training,’ which is mandatory for all full time employees at the institution,” Rebel News reported Feb. 25, 2021.
“Among the images of a training slideshow is a table titled ‘Where Do I have Privilege or Marginality?’ which attempts to explain the advantages certain groups have over others. For example, ‘White People’ are ‘dominant’ over the following ‘oppressed/marginalized groups’: non-white, black, Asian, South Asian, and indigenous people,” it reported.
Arbitration document state Hipsz had seen reports on diversity training at Coca Cola in the U.S. “about ‘how to be less white’; that when it was leaked to the public there had been a backlash, and as a result Coca Cola had pulled the training.”
“That was what he was hoping would happen at Sheridan as he found the EDI training offensive and wanted the College to stop using it. His intention was that the College would be embarrassed once the training became public, as he believed Coca Cola had been in the U.S. He stated that he didn’t have avenues within the College to raise his concerns,” they state.
Moveover, “while he was taking the training modules, he felt that some of the content was not accurate or that it was not aligned with the Ontario Human Rights Code. In particular he objected to a chart that in his view suggested that if one was White and Catholic, one was privileged,” the documents state.
Rebecca Sprague, director of human resources services, became aware of the Rebel News video and the connection to Hipsz around February 2021, according to the document.
“The Employer identified the grievor as having something to do with the RN reportage as it had seen his name on a tab on a screen shot of the EDI training materials used in the story,” the document stated. “The tab said ‘Mail – Tom Hipsz.'”
The Fix reached out to Sprague on Jan. 16 to confirm why Hipsz was fired, if he had had a good record as an employee, and why she believed the arbitration was unsuccessful. No response has been received.
Rebel News had falsely referred to Hipsz as “a former staff member” in the article to protect his identity, according to the document. However, the college reviewed the images and identified Hipsz as the sender.
“[I]t was clear through his evidence that the grievor loved his work and had been dedicated to helping students find their way and to succeed at the College,” the arbitration document stated. Additionally, “the grievor has a bi-racial daughter to whom he referred many times in his evidence, who he is protective of, and it was apparent he loves very much.”
The Fix reached out to Hipsz for comment on January 10. No response has been received.
IMAGE: Rebel News/YouTube