CSIS settles $35m suit with staff alleging workplace harassment

CSIS settles $35m suit with staff alleging workplace harassment

CSIS settles $35m suit with staff alleging workplace harassment The Canadian Security Intelligence Service announced it has reached a settlement in a $35 million harassment and discrimination lawsuit, launched earlier this year by five intelligence officers.

The spy agency says that a mediator helped negotiate the settlement out of court. CSIS director David Vigneault said the settlement in the best interest of all those concerned.

He added that no details will be provided.

“I strongly believe in leading an organization where each employee promotes a workplace which is free from harassment and conducive to the equitable treatment of all individuals,” Vigneault said in a statement released Thursday.

“Moving forward, the Service will be working to ensure that the behaviour of all employees reflects the CSIS Employee Code of Conduct principles of respect for democracy, respect for people, integrity, stewardship, and professional excellence.”

The employees alleged that management created a workplace rife with discrimination, harassment and bullying “through its tone at the top”. The Star reports that the employees claimed to have faced years of discrimination because they were gay, Muslim or Black.

CSIS asked the Federal Court to dismiss the lawsuit, adding that it had never engaged in or tolerated religious bigotry.
The employees claimed they suffered harassment condoned by supervisors, and said that they could no longer work due to anxiety and depression, linked to the alleged abuse.

One female employee claimed that managers had to approve her participation in religious activities after she began wearing a hijab, despite having passed security screening previously.

A gay employee with a Muslim partner, claimed a co-worker wrote in an email “careful your Muslim in-laws don't behead you in your sleep for being homo.”

The Star reported in October, that Vigneault met with the five employees to hear the allegations first hand. He released a statement acknowledging that his agency suffers from a workplace environment of “retribution, favouritism, bullying and other problems,” which he added is “categorically unacceptable in a high-functioning, professional organization”.


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