Nova Scotia

$900M military sexual misconduct settlement 'huge relief' for plaintiff

One of the lead plaintiffs in a $900 million class-action lawsuit for members of the Canadian military and employees of the Department of National Defence hopes the it brings closure for the people who experience of sexual assault and misconduct.

Glynis Rogers says speaking out left her 'extremely vulnerable,' but was worth it

One of the lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit alleging rampant sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces hopes the military is taking steps toward changing its culture. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

One of the lead plaintiffs in a successful $900 million class-action lawsuit for members of the Canadian military and the Department of National Defence hopes the settlement brings closure for people who experienced sexual assault and misconduct.

Glynis Rogers, a former military officer from Yarmouth, N.S., said it was a "huge relief" to learn the Federal Court formally signed off on the government's offer Monday

Rogers and six other former members of the armed forces launched the class-action suits on behalf of past and current members. They argued female service members were subjected to systemic gender-based discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault at work. 

She said she was pleased to see that while the government has not admitted liability, it is acknowledging that people were harmed.

"Now that the settlement is actually approved, it will help women and those members who were actually affected to finally get some closure and acknowledgement of the harm," she told CBC's Maritime Noon

A chance to speak out

The federal government also agreed to set up a restorative-measures process so that members of the class action can tell senior Canadian Forces or Department of Defence officials about the misconduct they experienced. 

"It's non-intrusive; it won't re-trigger those members who apply. It allows members to actually speak out about the harm, whether publicly or privately," said Rogers. "They'll actually have an opportunity to say what the long-term effects have been, what they actually went through, what they experienced." 

Rogers said there were a number of incidents, including a sexual assault, during her time in the forces that led her to speak out. 

She joined the forces right out of high school and attended the Royal Military College of Canada. After graduating with first-class distinction with a bachelor of science in physics and mathematics, she took an aerospace engineering course as a second lieutenant in Borden, Ont. 

At CFB Borden she and other women were subjected to demeaning comments and behaviour, including being called emotionally unstable. Rogers took a medical dismissal in 2016. 

"The overwhelming culture was very misogynistic and not really a safe environment for women or LGBTQ-plus members. So it was more attempting to actually affect change in the military so that nobody else had to go through what I did," she said Wednesday. 

After leaving the military, Rogers picked up photography as a way to cope and is now studying it full time.

The settlement also includes a commitment to a comprehensive external review of the military's progress in addressing sexual misconduct. Rogers is hopeful she'll see a shift in the military culture and said so far, it seems there has been progress. 

'Vulnerable' being lead plaintiff

Rogers said being one of the lead plaintiffs was tough and she had reservations about coming forward. 

"It makes me feel extremely vulnerable. But I think it was needed. It's been a bit of a roller coaster, but we're here. We finally made it. The settlement was approved. It was worth it."

Victims of sexual misconduct will be eligible for compensation between $5,000 and $55,000 depending on what happened to them and how many people submit claims.

Some may be eligible for up to $155,000, if there were previously denied benefits. As one of the plaintiffs, Rogers will receive a $10,000 honorarium. 

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With files from Maritime Noon

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