The federal government wants a judge to toss out an attempt by a former female RCMP officer to certify a class action lawsuit for gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
Federal government lawyer Mitchell Taylor says there is no actual course of action in this claim brought forward by former Constable Janet Merlo.
She claims she was repeatedly harassed and discriminated against, while working as an RCMP officer in Nanaimo.
Her lawyers say she is one of nearly four hundred women who have similar stories.
Feds push individual focus
Despite the hundreds of women who have apparently come forward, federal lawyers say the case law is clear: the crown, or in this case the RCMP, can not be held directly negligent for actions of individual civil servants, in this case, officers.
In essence, the police force as a whole can not be held responsible for the action of individual bad-apple cops.
Despite being named in this suit, the Province hasn’t sent its own lawyer.
The agreement between BC and the Feds indemnifies the province in case of wrongdoing.
That means, even if the province is found liable – the federal government picks up the tab.
“Unique opportunity” to deal with “big picture” issue of sexual harassment
On Monday, Merlo’s lawyer David Klein outlines his arguments, saying there is a clear pattern that should best be addressed in a class action lawsuit.
Klein says in all, 363 women have come forward – one hundred who still work for the RCMP.
“What we’ve seen from the government on the individual claims is denial and obfuscation…also an unwillingness to sit down and have a meaningful dialogue on how to sit down and resolve these claims.”
Klein says Merlo and the other women are open to an out of court settlement, acknowledging the judgement they are seeking is in the millions of dollars.