A Courtenay-based RCMP officer has filed a civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court alleging discrimination and harrassment.
An RCMP officer based out of Courtenay has filed a civil lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court alleging that a supervisor harassed and made derogatory comments against First Nations people and women.
Cpl. Jill Swann filed the claim on Aug. 3 in Vancouver. The notice of civil claim names her former supervisor, Cpl. Roger Collin of the Island District General Investigations Section, as well as the RCMP.
The suit also names Insp. Tim Walton, who is currently in charge of the Comox Valley RCMP detachment, and other officers.
In the claim, Swann, a 20-year member of the force, alleges she was harassed and discriminated against “on the basis of her sex, marital status, family status, physical and mental disability and personal appearance,” by individual male RCMP officers, including Collin, who was her supervisor from August 2008 and June 2016. Swann, who has served as a constable since September 1996, was stationed at the Island District General Investigation Section (IDGIS) based in Courtenay from 2006 to 2016.
Swann alleges that Collin gave her a box of condoms that were in a bouquet of flowers the RCMP detachment office sent to her residence following the birth of her youngest child. She alleges she was shocked to find the condoms and was told by coworkers that Collin sent them. Swann claims when she told Collin she was offended by the package, Collin responded, ‘How do you think it felt having to go in and buy it?'”
The suit also alleges that Collin repeatedly referred to Swann as “meth face” following Swann’s facial surgery in 2010 to remove five large facial skin-blemishes and moles that were suspected to be cancerous.
Swann also alleges that between 2008 and 2015, Collin intentionally included misleading statements on her annual and mid-year performance reviews in order to prevent her from participating in files that interested her or getting promotions.
In February 2015, Swann said she was assigned as a negotiator in an incident where a man shot himself after threatening to do so.
Swann claims when she went to work the next day, still upset about the incident, Collin stated in front of her coworkers that “if Cst. Swann attended as the negotiator, he too would shoot himself in the head. He said he could not understand why someone would be willing to kill himself just to get her to stop talking.”
In the suit, Swann said she was “shocked and horrified” by the alleged statements, but forced herself to continue working.
Collin is also alleged to have stated many times that granting women the right to vote was the “beginning of the end.” Swann also claims Collin regularly commented that “women were best placed in the kitchen.” The comments allegedly took place in the detachment office setting or in direct conversation with Swann. The suit said Swann “found Collin’s sexist comments degrading, offensive, and diminishing of women’s role within the RCMP and within society generally.”
Swann also claims Collin regularly commented that “women were best placed in the kitchen.” Those comments allegedly took place in the detachment office setting or in direct conversation with Swann. The suit said Swann “found Collin’s sexist comments degrading, offensive, and diminishing of women’s role within the RCMP and within society generally.”
The suit alleges Collin made offensive and discriminatory statements against First Nations, which Swann took personally, as her husband and children are Métis. Swann said she also has other First Nations relatives.
From 2012 to 2015, Collin allegedly referred to Swann as “One Flung Out,” an “Indian” nickname he allegedly gave her after a button on her uniform shirt became undone. Swann claims Collin frequently referred to an investigative project named E-Paramedian as “E-Pair of Indians.”
Another allegation stated Collin drew a bull’s-eye target symbol on her soft body armour along with derogatory names.
The suit said when Swann complained to a supervisor about the derogatory nicknames, the supervisor allegedly “downplayed Cpl. Collins’ conduct by stating he had nicknames for everyone…”
Swann claims that Collin gave her a heavier workload than any other member of the unit because she took her concerns to supervisor and she also alleges she found handwritten notes in a file Collin kept on her, contrary to RCMP policy. In the documents, Swann said she found the file on his desk.
In August 2015, Swann filed a workplace complaint alleging “personal and sexual harassment,” according to the documents.
In the suit, Swann said she was served a code of conduct violation for accessing Collin’s desk. In October 2015, Swann went on medical leave for seven months.
The suit alleges the RCMP “failed to provide…Swann with a safe workplace, free from all forms of harassment and intimidation,” contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canada Labour Code and the RCMP’s rules.
Swann is seeking general and special damages, exemplary and punitive damages, aggravated damages and costs pursuant to the court order and other relief that the court deems just.
“The RCMP and each of the named individual negligent employees have engaged in conduct that is reprehensible and deserves punishment,” the suit said.
“The actions of the RCMP and the negligent employees were reckless, arrogant, high-handed and abusive and showed a callous disregard for the Plaintiff’s rights.”