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Suit alleges years of abuse by male guards against female coworkers at Edmonton Max
Published Monday, March 12, 2018 1:51PM MDT
Last Updated Monday, March 12, 2018 6:57PM MDT
Four current and former female guards at the Edmonton Institution have filed a lawsuit against their employer and union for millions, claiming the Correctional Service of Canada and their union did not help them or protect them from being harassed.
The lawsuit, filed on March 5, 2018, outlines claims from four women, identified by pseudonyms Andrea, Samantha, Jessica and Sarah.
The statement of claim alleged the Edmonton Institution, as a workplace “is rife with discrimination, harassment, bullying, abuse of authority, and sexual assault” and managers, the union and other employees “support this atmosphere throughout the institution, without any adherence to respectful workplace norms.”
According to the statement of claim, Jessica started working as an officer at the Edmonton Institution in May, 2007 when she was 22-years-old.
The statement of claim said she was sexually harassed daily for nearly ten years – it said one individual, identified as Mr. Doe #1, had been known to stir drinks for her, and other female officers, with his penis – not telling them until after they had taken a drink from it.
The same individual would also pull his genitalia out of his pants, and parade around the office – at other times, Mr. Doe #1 would urinate into rubber gloves, close them, and then threaten to throw them at Jessica. He did, on two occasions.
The statement said Jessica was suicidal by January, 2016. She stopped wearing body armour at work, and the statement said she hoped an inmate would stab her “to end her ordeal.”
Sarah started working at the Edmonton Institution in December, 2009. She has a diploma in law enforcement and is a licenced teacher with Edmonton Public.
While she was employed there, she received a number of harassing comments from a number of employees, including: “What kind of woman wants to work in a male prison? The ones with something to prove to men.”
The suit claims she felt uncomfortable, and that her safety was in jeopardy when her male coworkers would question her ability to do her job. She still works at CSC, but struggles daily, the suit said.
The Crown and Union of Canadian Correctional Officers are listed as defendants in the suit.
Read the full document below.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale spoke in Regina Monday, and responded to news of the lawsuit.
“Allegations of that nature are simply unacceptable, this alleged behaviour has no place in any public or private institution anywhere in Canada,” Goodale said.
Goodale said the Correctional Service of Canada started an internal investigation, and some individuals had been disciplined.
“In addition, there is an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Edmonton Police Force,” Goodale said. “It will need to run its course to whatever conclusion the Edmonton Police come to.”
CTV News reached out to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) for comment – a spokesperson released a statement in response:
“We do not tolerate harassment in our organization and we take this matter very seriously. It is a priority for our senior management team to address the issue of harassment and ensure a positive work environment.”
The statement went on to say employees of CSC are “expected to act according to legal and ethical standards and are subject to the rules of professional conduct and code of discipline.”
CSC referred to the investigation by Edmonton police, and said CSC was cooperating with the investigation.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers released a statement to CTV News as well, saying it had been informed of the lawsuit: “Although [the union] will not make any further comment so as to not interfere with legal proceedings, as this case is now before the court, the union wants to clearly state that it firmly condemns all forms of harassment.”
Edmonton Police said their investigation was ongoing, and no charges had been laid so far.
The lawsuit seeks a total $43.4 million in damages.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
With files from David Ewasuk