Former city manager accused of racism in wrongful dismissal lawsuit
LONDON, ONT -- A wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the City of London from Marcel Marcellin alleges that racism played a role in his firing, and that a former city manager made racist comments to him during his time at city hall.
The Statement of Claim, a copy of which has been obtained by CTV News, was filed June 12 by Millars Law and names former city manager Martin Hayward multiple times in regards to racist incidents, including what was described in the lawsuit as a “racist diatribe.”
Marcellin, who is Black, is a former police sergeant with the London Police Service who later worked as former mayor Matt Brown’s chief of staff and then in the city manager’s office under Hayward.
He says it was his dream job, “Oh you don’t even know, it was the job I was hoping to get.”
He is suing the city for $483,000, alleging that he was wrongfully terminated during a medical leave he took back in 2018.
His lawyer Phil Millar says, “Once we explored that wrongful dismissal, there was definitely elements of discrimination in his workplace environment.”
The lawsuit claims that in 2018, during the candidate filing period for the upcoming election, Hayward told Marcellin that black people had a “poverty mentality” and expected jobs to be handed to them.
“He basically said they need to wait their turn, and put in their time as opposed to, sort of, expecting that you’re going to get a job, a valuable job at city hall,” Marcellin says.
The conversation allegedly took place after Hayward had spoken to a candidate for city council who happened to be Black and an immigrant from Africa.
The lawsuit also alleges that Hayward, referencing the candidate he spoke to, would only hire them in a different department to avoid having “two Blacks” in the city manager’s office.
The lawsuit references several other instances in which Marcellin says he faced racially insensitive comments.
The lawsuit also alleges that Marcellin was fired due to a campaign of harassment surrounding assault charges laid against him in August of 2018.
Marcellin was charged with historical assault against his ex-wife for incidents stemming back to 1995 and 1996.
Those charges were later withdrawn when Marcellin entered into a peace bond with an unnamed complainant.
Following the charges being issued, Marcellin took a medical leave. The lawsuit alleges that three months into his leave he returned to work briefly to find his office had been cleared out and his name removed.
In January of 2019 Marcellin was formally let go, five months after taking his leave, for what the city called restructuring, according to the lawsuit.
Marcellin says, “The only explanation for me, is that I was hired for strategic purposes, and that the policies of diversity and inclusion, and all of the buzz words, they seemed hollow.”
Marcellin has since filed a $4-million negligence lawsuit against two London women’s advocates, as well as London and Woodstock police.
That lawsuit specifically names his ex-wife, as well as Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, and Kate Wiggins, former executive director of Anova.
The wrongful dismissal lawsuit also mentions Walker and Wiggins, claiming the pair attempted to influence Hayward to fire Marcellin.
Since losing his job, Marcellin says he initially tried to avoid speaking out, but that changed as time passed, especially in the wake of a new heightened awareness of racial injustice.
“I felt like I should speak up. I know that there are other people who have gone through what I have gone through - this experience, just like me”
Neither the City of London nor Martin Hayward wished to provide comment on this claim, as the matter is before the courts.
None of the allegations have been tested or proven in court.