Female B.C. Mountie launches harassment lawsuit
Harassment from fellow officer ignored by superiors, constable says
Another female RCMP officer has come forward with allegations of harassment by her male colleagues and inaction by her superiors after she went to them with complaints.
Const. Karen Katz, who took medical leave in February 2009 due to post-traumatic stress disorder she says was caused by her oppressive work experience, filed a lawsuit at the B.C. Supreme Court this week.
Katz is suing fellow officer Baldev Singh Bamra, the federal attorney general, the federal minister of public safety and the B.C. solicitor general.
She claims Bamra harassed and sexually humiliated her on the job.
Katz said the harassment started when Bamra launched what she describes as a "campaign of …complaining" about her.
She describes in court documents a number of alleged incidents in which "Bamra embarked on a pattern of erratic physical conduct," toward her, "which escalated in nature."
She said Bamra slammed his chest into hers while they were wearing bulletproof vests in 2006.
Then in 2007, Bamra rubbed his crotch against her knee, Katz says in her statement of claim.
Katz claims she reported the incidents to her supervisors, but they were never investigated.
She says in the lawsuit that the federal and provincial governments have an obligation to provide a work environment free from harassment and sexual assault, and that Bamra's behaviour caused or contributed to her illness.
The allegations have not been proved in court and the RCMP has yet to file a statement of defence.
Katz’s lawsuit follows a litany of similar allegations and lawsuits filed by other female Mounties and former officers initiated by an exclusive CBC News story about Cpl. Catherine Galliford.
A male officer also said he was harassed because he didn't share the attitudes of the "old boys' network."
A group of Vancouver and Ontario lawyers said they will apply to the court for certification as a class action lawsuit sometime this month.
Newly appointed RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has vowed to deal with the harassment allegations and to set about changing the behaviour of officers.
With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway