The RCMP has agreed to a settlement of a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment within its ranks, a law firm behind the suit says.
A federal class action suit alleges members of the RCMP experienced gender- and sexual orientation-based harassment and discrimination while working for the force.
The RCMP has not admitted liability but has agreed to a settlement, according to Klein Lawyers, a personal injury and class action law firm based in Vancouver.
The federal court system certified the suit last week. Those who qualify will receive compensation ranging from $10,000 to $220,000, according to Klein Lawyers.
Those entitled to the lowest level of compensation include those who experienced sexualized comments, jokes and questions. Examples listed online also include exhibitionism, bullying causing psychological harm, “mockery by various means” and communication of a sexual nature. Effects under “level one” include humiliation, loss of self-esteem and occasional panic attacks.
Cases considered most severe include those who’ve experienced post-traumatic stress, personality problems, suicidal thoughts or attempts and substance abuse, following conduct including intimidation, sexual assault and acts meant to affect career development.
A full schedule of compensation levels has been posted on the law firm’s website.
Mounties confirmed the settlement in a post on the RCMP website, and clarified that the plaintiffs were not RCMP employees but had been working with the RCMP on its premises.
“As an organization, we are accountable for our actions and continue to expand on the measures we’ve put in place to address conflict and inappropriate behavior in the workplace,” RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki wrote.
“We’ve set up a centralized office to coordinate harassment complaints, and continue to encourage anyone who feels they are a victim of inappropriate behavior to report it.”
She wrote there are now permanent resources in place focusing on gender equity, diversity and inclusion.
“Harassment and discrimination do not have a place in our organization… I deeply regret that these women were subject to inappropriate behavior in our workplace, and apologize for the pain caused to them and their families.”
Parties eligible for compensation as a result of the settlement include women who experienced harassment or discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation while working or volunteering with the RCMP. For this settlement alleged harassment must have occurred between Sept. 16, 1974 and July 5, 2019.
The suit includes current and former living municipal employees, regional district employees, supernumerary special constables, consultants, contractors, public service employees and students, Klein Lawyers says. It also includes “members of integrated policing units and persons from outside agencies and police forces who are female or publicly identify as female and who were supervised or managed by the RCMP or who worked in an RCMP controlled workplace during the Class Period,” a news release says.
While employees and volunteers are considered primary class members, children and spouses may also qualify if their primary class family member’s claim is assessed at the two highest severity levels, the firm says.
Those who aren’t sure if they qualify can fill in a form on Klein Lawyers’ website, and someone will contact them with more information.
A motion to formally approve the settlement is scheduled to be heard at the federal court in Vancouver on Oct. 17. If approved, a notice will be published explaining how to submit a claim.
This is the second major class action suit filed against the RCMP on the basis of gender- and sexual orientation-based harassment. Three years ago, the RCMP also settled a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit with female officers for $100 million.