Settlement estimated at $100M approved for women sexually harassed while employed by RCMP

Claimants will be handled confidentially and will be protected by a no-retaliation directive

Settlement estimated at $100M approved for women sexually harassed while employed by RCMP

The Federal Court of Canada has approved a settlement, estimated at $100 million, compensating women subjected to harassment or discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation while working or volunteering with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In Tiller v. Canada, 2020 FC 321, Justice Michael Phelan found the settlement agreement to be fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the class members, comprised of women who worked or volunteered in a workplace supervised, managed or controlled by the RCMP from Sept. 16, 1974 to July 5, 2019. Class members may submit their claims from May 10 to Nov. 5.

“The settlement is an acknowledgement that sexual misconduct will no longer be tolerated within the RCMP or within our broader Canadian society,” said Angela Bespflug of Klein Lawyers LLP, class counsel, in a news release from the firm. “It gives women a voice and an opportunity to reclaim their power.”

“We know compensation won't erase the trauma they endured, but it will validate their experience and will help them move forward with their lives,” said Patrick Higgerty of Higgerty Law, another class counsel.

The settlement will be distributed to eligible claimants in six levels of compensation. For minimal injuries, eligible claimants will receive $10,000; for mild injuries, $35,000; for low moderate injuries, $70,000; for upper moderate injuries, $100,000; for significant injuries, $150,000; and for severe injuries, $220,000.

To minimize the risk of re-traumatization, claimants’ claims will be handled confidentially, they will not be cross-examined, will not be required to testify in a public hearing, and will be protected by a no-retaliation directive from the RCMP. Assessors will review the documents submitted by the claimants and will conduct interviews with claimants alleging low, moderate and severe injuries.

The assessors are three retired female justices: Louise Otis, formerly of the Quebec Court of Appeal; Pamela Kirkpatrick, formerly of the British Columbia Court of Appeal; and Kathryn Neilson, formerly of the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

Brenda Lucki, commissioner of the RCMP, said that the women who work and volunteer with the RCMP deserve a safe and respectful work environment. “The trust of the public flows, in part, from their perception of how we treat each other, so it is essential that the RCMP continues to improve our workplace culture and environment,” Lucki was quoted as saying in the news release.

Cheryl Tiller, one of the three representative plaintiffs who also include Mary-Ellen Copland and Dayna Roach, said that she came forward for the benefit of all women. “I hope that my story gives other women hope,” Tiller said.

More information may be found on the settlement website.

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