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Mounties urge Supreme Court to allow class action on bullying to proceed

Plaintiffs claim they were subjected to a culture of systemic intimidation and harassment
Members of the RCMP march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 6, 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Mounties waging a class action against the RCMP over bullying and harassment are telling the Supreme Court of Canada to reject a federal move to have the suit thrown out.

The lead plaintiffs, veteran RCMP members Geoffrey Greenwood and Todd Gray, say they were among those subjected to a culture of systemic intimidation and harassment that was fostered and condoned by the RCMP leadership.

Last September the Federal Court of Appeal upheld a judge’s order certifying the action and defined the class as RCMP members and reservists who served from Jan. 1, 1995, until the recent unionization of affected members.

Two months later, government lawyers filed an application asking the Supreme Court of Canada to review the case, raising several concerns with the Court of Appeal ruling.

In a statement, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said the government is seeking clarity on whether the courts should certify a class action relating to workplace disputes when there are already administrative resolution processes in place.

“The Government of Canada has a range of comprehensive administrative mechanisms to deter, detect, investigate, correct and provide compensation to RCMP employees for workplace disputes, including harassment complaints,” Lucki said.

The RCMP has made an ongoing effort to address harassment in the organization, she added. “In response to several RCMP and government commissioned reports and recommendations, we have implemented numerous policy and program change initiatives to create a more respectful, inclusive and diverse workplace.”

In a submission to the Supreme Court urging it to hear the appeal, federal lawyers say that where Parliament has provided for a specialized administrative regime for the resolution of workplace disputes, the role of the courts is limited to exercising exceptional jurisdiction in individual cases.

The submission says allowing otherwise vastly expands the reach of the courts “into the everyday workplace disputes of non-unionized employees.”

— Canadian Press

RELATED: Class action alleging RCMP abuse of Indigenous people in Northern Canada certified