A lawyer representing women who were harassed and discriminated against while working in non-policing roles with the RCMP says it’s likely a large number of those eligible for part of a potentially $100-million class-action settlement are in Alberta.
Last week, Canada’s Federal Court certified a major class-action brought by three plaintiffs on behalf of women who volunteered or worked for the RCMP or in RCMP workplaces.
The lawsuit alleges widespread harassment — going back to 1974 when women were first allowed to join the RCMP — against women for their gender or sexual orientation. Police and plaintiffs have since reached a settlement that could total $100 million depending on how many eligible claims are submitted.
The class-action includes women who worked in more than a dozen roles with the RCMP, including as municipal employees, volunteers, special constables, consultants and contractors.
Patrick Higgerty, a Calgary-based lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said the harassment and discrimination included everything from “sexist comments and inappropriate jokes to even rape.”
“We believe this type of behaviour is a product of the former RCMP culture,” he said. “It’s a paramilitary operation, and there were a lot of macho attitudes that prevailed for a long time. Women are relatively new to the culture, having only been there since 1974.”