On November 21, 2016, Wagners commenced a proposed class action on behalf of all persons in Canada who are currently or were formerly Members of the Canadian Armed Forces and who identify as female.
The action alleges that the Government of Canada is responsible for the systemic gender- and sexual-orientation-based discrimination, bullying, harassment and sexual assault of female members within the Canadian Armed Forces.
The action also claims that female members’ rights to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, which is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has been violated.
The suit does not name or sue individual people for their discriminatory or abusive actions towards female members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Rather, this is a civil lawsuit claiming that the Government of Canada is vicariously liable for the sexual misconduct of the male members of the CAF. Vicarious liability assigns legal responsibility for the harm and injury suffered by female members at the hands of male members of the CAF to the Canadian Government.
As well, this action is focused on systemic discrimination, bullying, harassment and sexual assault of female members. Systemic discrimination takes the focus away from individual acts, and instead refers to patterns of behavior, policies or practices that are part of an organization’s structure, and which create or perpetuate discrimination, harm, and disadvantage.
For instance, in this action, it is alleged that the Government of Canada:
- a)did not take reasonable measures to prevent sexual misconduct;
- b)provided inadequate training on prohibited sexual conduct;
- c)provided inadequate programs, support services, and reporting mechanisms to victims; and
- d)did not take meaningful steps to prevent sexual misconduct within the Canadian military.
Not only is this action about monetary relief, but it is also about hopefully instigating comprehensive cultural change within the Canadian military to rid the sexualized and hostile environment, and make it a place where women are integrated, valued and able to succeed.
Please refer to our next blog, which explains the procedural steps and how class actions work.
Please do not hesitate to contact us by email at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-465-8794 for more information. All communications with Wagners will be kept confidential.