A 49-year-old British Columbia Mountie awaiting trial in a highly publicized lawsuit she filed four years ago against the RCMP for sexual harassment in the workplace has had her matter settled out of court. The corporal, a spokesperson for the force, said that she has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder after 20 years of work-related harassment, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The Mountie believes that the RCMP’s internal practices in responding to complaints of workplace abuse and harassment are insufficient and may not hold offenders sufficiently accountable.
After the lawsuit was filed, other women on the force went public about having endured similar harassment. The RCMP had no comment on the settlement.
The Vancouver Sun article also reports that another female BC RCMP officer filed a class-action lawsuit in 2012 alleging “name-calling, sexist pranks and requests for sexual favors” at work. She also described harassment by a manager directed towards her pregnancy. The BC Supreme Court has not yet issued a decision on the class certification question which, if granted, would create a class of about 450 female plaintiffs.
Workplace sexual harassment is illegal as a type of sex discrimination under both federal and BC law. Covered employers must keep places of employment free from such harassment and respond appropriately to complaints.
Sexual harassment is “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” that can impact the victim’s ability to work or create a hostile or offensive environment. Examples of what can constitute sexual harassment include:
- Unwelcome off-colour jokes or comments
- Sexually related threats
- Unwanted touching or assault
- Requests for sexual favors in exchange for a job benefit
- Display of obscene images
Among other behaviours.
Anyone who experiences sexual harassment on the job should speak with a lawyer about potential legal remedies that could include a complaint to a government agency, a workers’ compensation claim, or a lawsuit, depending on the circumstances. Some perpetrators of sexual harassment may also be committing crimes.