Arbitrator sides with former CBC employee fired after supervisor read his private messages

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“I was shocked that somebody could be so xenophobic and racist on national TV while promoting a game that I love and that brings people together,” Khan later testified. “I can’t take the brown skin off me. It’s what I am first before I’m a journalist.”

Soon after, Melanie Verhaeghe, the managing editor of CBC Manitoba, asked Khan to remove the tweet, saying it went against CBC’s journalistic practices that state reporters cannot express opinions about topics that they could cover. According to the document, she sought the advice of Paul Hambleton, who is in charge of CBC’s journalistic standards policies.

(If Khan) wants to be an activist he should step down

“[If Mr. Khan] wants to be an activist he should step down,” Hambleton replied. “Everyone hears what they want to hear from don cherry.”

Khan initially fought the request — arguing that white journalists share their opinions on topics all the time with no reprisal — but ultimately deleted the tweet.

But soon after, Khan notified a contact at Canadaland about the incident, who then published a story titled “CBC Had Employee Delete Tweet Critical of Don Cherry”. His condition to sharing the information was that he not be credited as its source in the story. He also notified a Maclean’s reporter, who tweeted about the incident.

“Mr. Khan testified that even though he was conflicted about telling Canadaland about the issue, he felt a discussion was necessary about race and the CBC and about how the CBC’s journalism policies were silencing employees of colour,” the document reads. “He said he believed the Canadaland piece sparked discussion within the CBC.”

At the end of November, Khan used a CBC shared work laptop, which requires a sign-out by the employee, and left it on his desk, still signed into his personal Twitter and WhatsApp accounts.

A few days later, a fellow CBC reporter, Austin Grabish, took the laptop and notified their manager that he had found “unethical” materials on the laptop, including proof that Khan had leaked info to Canadaland, a private chat with friends in which he disparaged his manager, and the use of a homophobic slur. He sent multiple screengrabs to Verhaeghe.

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