2012 PSST 0006
abuse of authority; use of a new appointment process; reasonable apprehension of bias.
The complainant alleged an abuse of authority in commencing a new internal advertised appointment process, rather than using a previous pool of qualified candidates. It was further alleged that the involvement of two assessment board members gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias due to previous conflicts with the complainant. Additionally, one of the board members had an external business relationship with one of the appointees.
The respondent denied any abuse of authority. It submitted that initiating a new appointment process was appropriate given the passage of time. In addition, appropriate steps were taken to minimize unfairness and bias in the appointment process.
The choice to initiate a new appointment process did not constitute an abuse of authority. Inclusion in a pool of qualified candidates does not guarantee subsequent appointment. The respondent provided a reasonable explanation for its decision to commence a new appointment process.
A reasonable apprehension of bias was established based on the existence of previous conflicts between two assessment board members and the complainant. In addition, the presence of a board member at the interview of one of the appointees, with whom the board member had an external business relationship, gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias.
The Tribunal ordered the respondent to revoke the appointment within 60 days. The Tribunal recommended training on bias and conflict free assessment processes for all who participated in this assessment board or were involved in its establishment.