June 14th, 2024

Former employees make allegations against city council candidate

By Tim Kalinowski on August 19, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

Several women are making allegations of inappropriate behaviour against city council candidate and local business owner Bradley Whalen.
Tianna Collon was one of the first to come forward with allegations of unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate texts against Whalen on social media last week stemming back to when she worked as a bartender and waitress at his Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina and Club Coco in July. She has since been joined by others on social media with similar stories.
Collon told The Herald earlier this week her discomfort with Whalen began when she was hired as a waitress to work in his beer gardens during the Street Wheelers Weekend.
“You could tell he was a little bit flirty with the customers and the staff as well,” she said. “It was mostly young girls working on the staff. So it was me, my sister, and a few other girls that I know are below 22.
“At the beer gardens he was like throwing ice down our shirts and pouring water on us while we were working and stuff, which I didn’t think was appropriate to be doing at the job. But I didn’t think much of it.”
She said she went to work for Whalen as a regular employee after that, and that’s when she started to receive inappropriate texts from him after hours. 
“I was doing serving and bartending,” she explained, “and I got a few messages from him saying like: ‘You’re beautiful, and I am sorry to be flirting with you. I know you’re involved right now, and I feel bad, but I just can’t help it.’ And stuff like that.”
“And then I noticed he was being more weird than usual around me, and like the females that were working. And I just ignored it because I didn’t want to think the worst of it. And I just kept getting texts about sexual remarks, and topics that were not appropriate to be talking about with your employee. It made me feel very uncomfortable.”
Collon said Whalen’s inappropriate behaviour eventually progressed to unwanted physical contact.
“It’s scary when you are dealing with like a boss or someone that’s higher up than you because you think they have more power than you, so you can’t really do much,” she explained. “He tried to give me hugs a lot. He would like walk by me, and like touch my shoulders, and rub my back. Just this unwanted contact.”
One one occasion, Collon said, Whalen touched her shoulder and she cringed from the unwanted contact. He interpreted her reaction much differently in a text message he sent later.
“He texted me later that day and said it was ‘energy transference,’ and it only happens because there is a connection. I only shivered (he said) because I felt something.”
Collon said she should have left Whalen’s employ sooner than she did, but she was in denial about what was happening and vulnerable because of her financial situation. She and other staff members were laid off on Aug. 1 after Whalen told them he was going to close the business and declare bankruptcy.
“I should have left sooner,” Collon confirmed. “As soon as I got the first few texts, I should have talked to someone about it and realized myself it was not OK. But I just needed a job so badly that I just ignored it.
“I don’t understand the reason behind some of the texts,” she admitted. “Some of them are very weird. Like he sent me a picture of his feet. I was off work; so doing my own thing, and I just get a picture of my bosses’ feet.”
Going public was a big decision for Collon, but as soon as she did several other women also began posting about their own alleged unwanted experiences with Whalen. 
“I was glad I was able to talk about it sooner rather than later,” said Collon. “And now these other women and girls are able to talk about it too. I am very happy. Because a lot of people said they were scared to talk to anyone about it or come forward about it.
“I came forward so they can finally talk about it too.”
One of those who came forward after seeing Collon’s Facebook posts was another former Whalen employee, Alleen Noble. Noble worked for him from February to the end of March last year. She said, like Collon, she was in a difficult financial situation when she agreed to come work for Whalen.
“I was looking for a second job, and he was hiring,” she told The Herald. “It ended up going well to start with anyways. And, for the most part, wasn’t too bad. The work got a little bit difficult, and then unfortunately Brad himself started making suggestive comments and sending gross text messages to me after hours.”
Outside of the text messages, Noble said she was appalled by some of the things Whalen said to her even with his wife and children nearby.
“He would make comments to me while he would be in the kitchen during work, and he would have his wife and children sitting out in the dining room tables,” she recalled. “And he would be making these comments to me, and I would be looking over and staring at them as they are sitting in the restaurant. I unfortunately never ended up being confident enough to say anything to Brad about it. I eventually did end up just leaving the restaurant and not coming back when COVID ended up hitting.”
Because Whalen never touched her physically she rationalized the situation, she said, and tried to work through as best she could because she had bills to pay.
“A lot of it was just suggestive innuendo,” she stated. “Like, ‘you look really good in those pants today. Or man, I really get a great view when you bend over.’ It wasn’t necessarily swear words or super vulgar, but definitely stuff no employee in any situation or any capacity should have to deal with that in the workplace.”
Noble said she always regretted not coming forward sooner, and was glad Collon and others had since done so. 
“Because I didn’t come forward previously about it, I want to make sure that I am assisting to make sure something is done about it now,” she said. “There have been so many other people that have had to deal with it as well, I don’t feel it should have to happen that anyone else should have to deal with anything like that.”
Noble said she has also filed other grievances about her experiences working for Whalen with the Alberta Labour Relations Board which are still under investigation. 
The Herald did reach out to Whalen by email for comment on these allegations of inappropriate behaviour from multiple women.
“The allegations here are false,” he stated in a reply. “I had recently laid off a couple employees in regards to business not being busy enough. And they personally took to Facebook to attack me.  There are no charges pending in any of these allegations and to my knowledge with my contacts with LPS there is no evidence to suggest I have committed any crime as per the Criminal Code of Canada.”
When asked about multiple women coming forward with these allegations who have posted his texts on social media, Whalen had this to say:
“I have spoken with a number of officers in this regard as I continue to file complaints about death threats and they have informed me that should any Facebook post or news article lead to harm to my personal self or my family. Those responsible for feeding this roast and toast frenzies could be held liable. The police have read the conversations and when the people posting these messages refuse to produce both sides of the conversation to show what the context of a conversation was likely means one side has something to hide.”  
The Herald asked Whalen how he could justify this type of conduct whether it is ultimately deemed criminal or not?
“You are 100% correct on one thing although flirting is not illegal, it is not criminal,” he said. “I should not have been flirting with anyone.”

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[…] the summer, Bradley Whalen dropped his bid for mayor and chose city council instead. Despite being enveloped with a scandal, he still showed up to sign his nomination this […]


Pathetic behaviour.