Police officer details bullying, micromanaging in grievance hearing against Waterloo Regional Police Service
Hearing continues with witness testimony on Friday
An arbitration hearing between the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) and one of its officers continued on Thursday with a central witness detailing incidents of bullying and micromanaging.
Angie Rivers, a police officer on sick leave since 2015, alleges she was harassed by several colleagues and sexually harassed by a sergeant during her time in active duty. She maintains her employer did not take sufficient action to protect her.
In 2017, Rivers co-filed a class action lawsuit against the police service and Waterloo Regional Police Association alleging she was subjected to discrimination because of her gender, on-the-job sexual harassment and abuse. A judge ruled that these issues raised were best addressed by a human rights tribunal or labour arbitrator.
Now, through the grievance hearing, the Waterloo Regional Police Association is seeking a declaration that states the police service violated Rivers' right to be free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of her gender and that she was subjected to a "poisoned" work environment. It's also seeking undisclosed damages and compensation.
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On Thursday, Rivers testified how she suffered unfair repercussions for speaking out about officers who harassed her.
Earlier this week, Rivers testified one of her male colleagues had called her derogatory names and said he wouldn't help her if she needed backup. She said he had also spread sexual rumours about her.
Rivers said he was one of two colleagues who received verbal warnings and he was moved to another patrol zone after she raised concerns.
Afterwards, Rivers said she began experiencing increased bullying and scrutiny from colleagues and supervisors, she testified Thursday.
"I had gone against the boys' club," she said.
Rivers testified that she felt she was being micromanaged and criticized over minor errors that she often had no control over. She felt every minute of her day was being watched so closely that she began to document her washroom breaks.
"I find that humiliating and demeaning," she testified.
At one point, Rivers said she was off work for a few weeks because her daughter was sick. Rivers said she thought her colleagues would show more compassion when she returned to work, but that didn't happen. That atmosphere, she said, continued to worsen.
Upon her return, Rivers said she found out through another junior colleague that she was being transferred to an isolated patrol zone — something that would impact relationships Rivers had made with the community and hinder work opportunities, she testified.
Rivers testified that her sergeants at the time told her she was being transferred because she was a strong police officer who didn't need much oversight. She felt she was transferred for making a complaint against her colleagues.
Rivers testified that she tried to improve the work environment by bringing in baked goods and food or hosting lunch hour barbecues. Still, no one would speak to her, she said.
"I was a complete outcast," she said.
Eventually, Rivers said she was told there would be an investigation into one of her male colleagues who had received a verbal warning and was transferred to another zone.
When that investigation concluded that no further action would be made, Rivers says she lost "faith in the service to do the right thing."
Rivers testified that's when she began to take antidepressants for depression. She and her partner also decided not to grow their family — a milestone they were looking forward to, she said.
The hearing continues on Friday.