Settlement reached in class action harassment lawsuit against RCMP

As many as 1,500 former employees and volunteers for police force could receive settlements totalling $100 million after Federal Court certified class-action suit

Settlement reached in class action harassment lawsuit against RCMP
A sign for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Vancouver Jan. 26, 2015. The national police force has reached a settlement in a class action harassment lawsuit represented by three female former employees. Shutterstock

VANCOUVER (CP) -- Women who experienced gender or sexual harassment while working or volunteering for the RCMP may be eligible for compensation under the settlement of a class-action lawsuit, a lawyer said Monday.

Angel Bespflug, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, says as many as 1,500 claimants may be eligible for settlements that could have a total value of as much as $100 million, but that will depend on how many substantiated claims are received.

Bespflug told a news conference she is hopeful the settlement will provide closure for women who experienced gender or sexual-orientation harassment in an RCMP workplace.

A news release from Klein Lawyers says the settlement includes a confidential independent claims process led by female assessors with eligible payments ranging from $10,000 to $220,000 for a proven claim.

The settlement is subject to approval by the Federal Court, which certified the class-action lawsuit last week.

Bespflug says the settlement reflects a cultural shift in the RCMP and Canadian society in general that harassment will no longer be tolerated.

``We are proud of this settlement and the voice it gives to women,'' she said. ``While no amount of money can compensate these women for the harms that they've endured, we hope this settlement is indicative of a better tomorrow.''

In a statement, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki says the RCMP has taken steps to improve the way it deals with harassment complaints and she apologized to the three women who were the representative plaintiffs in the case.

``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 behaviour in the workplace.''

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