Class action lawsuit in the cards for RCMP

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The RCMP could be facing a class action lawsuit if one lawyer – backed by 363 female officers and civilian employees – convinces a B.C court that the hundreds of harassment and gender discrimination claims are similar enough to proceed as one case.

David Klein, the lawyer representing the women, told reporters Monday that inexcusable RCMP misconduct had occurred over a period of months or years, had been committed by multiple perpetrators, and been repeatedly ignored by management.

"If you were to focus on these isolated incidents, of practical jokes, inappropriate comments, of sexualized gestures, you might not see the entire picture, but what we have here is a broad, serious, systemic problem," he told CBC News.

The possibility of a class action lawsuit is just the latest embarrassment for the RCMP as news broke earlier this week that Inspector Tim Shields has been suspended with pay.

The high-profile former spokesman for the force was suspended May 19, according to E division spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen, and is currently being sued by his former co-worker, Antoya Montague.

Montague’s allegation isn’t the only one stacking up against Shields – Anitra Singh, another civilian member of RCMP, has also accused him of sexual harassment.

The RCMP wouldn't comment on the proposed class-action case, but has said the force is changing due to women coming forward and a commitment from Commissioner Bob Paulson to change the “culture of harassment.”

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