RCMP Pays $1 Million for Harassment

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RCMP Pays $1 Million for Harassment

Postby Thomas » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:56 pm

RCMP Pays $1 Million for Harassment

Ex-RCMP Officer Harassed on Job Gets $1 Million

Staff sergeant, 2 other officers caused woman ‘serious psychological harm,’ judge rules

By Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun, Tuesday, January 24, 2006

MERRITT – A former Merritt RCMP officer has been awarded almost $1 million in damages after harassment by her commanding officer caused her to become clinically depressed and led to her quitting the force.

It is believed to be the highest harassment award made against the RCMP by a Canadian court, said Kamloops lawyer Barry Carter, who argued the case for ex-Mountie Nancy Sulz.
Sulz said Monday she’s still in shock from the award, but “no amount of money could replace the career that was taken away from me.”

“I had always wanted to be a police officer since I was a child. But I can’t do that work anymore. This whole thing has taken 10 years of my life. It’s been tough on my family and my friends,” she said.
Kamloops B.C. Supreme Court Justice George Lamperson awarded Sulz a total of $950,000 in damages, lost wages and loss of future earnings after finding Staff Sgt. Donald Smith and two subordinate officers caused Sulz “serious psychological harm.”

The RCMP has 30 days in which to appeal.

Lamperson ruled that Smith breached his duty by failing to ensure Sulz could work in a harassment-free environment as set out in RCMP regulations.

However, while the officer’s conduct was unreasonable and insensitive, there was no evidence he “deliberately set out to harass the plaintiff and drive her from the RCMP”, said the judge, who found Smith’s old school management style no longer acceptable.

“Although his manner was abrupt, demanding and unfeeling, his actions were consistent with his experience of the paramilitary command structure of the RCMP. It is clear, especially in light of the establishment and dissemination of a specific harassment policy that this command style was no longer appropriate in the modern RCMP,” Lamperson said.

Sulz said the ruling should be a wake-up call to the RCMP.

“I lost my job because I had a baby. I’m sure I’m not the only female member that’s had this happen to them. I complained twice [to superiors] because I wanted to keep working, but nothing happened,” she said.

Sulz joined the RCMP in 1988 and was in the Merritt detachment when Smith took command in 1994. At the time, she was contemplating a full career in the force, she testified.

Sulz testified her troubles began in 1994 when she was on medical leave due to complications from her second pregnancy. While off work she went on a shopping trip to Bellingham (home of the Workplace Bullying & Trauma Institute) without obtaining Smith’s permission.

She said she didn’t realize she had violated policy but was told by Sgt. Ron Angel that he and Smith were annoyed at what she had done and she would have to pay the price.(An RCMP inspector testified that this policy was not well known and has since been discontinued.)

When she returned to work she found that auxiliary constables were instructed not to ride with her because she was said to be manipulative and afraid of the dark. Because of the way she was being treated, her physical and mental health deteriorated, she lost nine kilograms (20 pounds), was constantly on the verge of tears and was unable to sleep.

In 1995, an RCMP psychologist recommended she work only part time. She was diagnosed as having major depressive disorder in February 1996 and told to take sick leave.

The psychologist then received an angry phone call from Smith suggesting that Sulz might have a drug-dependency problem, something he reported to RCMP headquarters, she said.

In 1997, “E” Division headquarters began a formal investigation into Sulz’s 48 complaints against Smith and found five allegations were founded, two could not be determined and the rest unfounded — based on the fact that it was her word against his and there was no corroborating evidence.

The findings came out in 1998 after Smith had left the force. Asked what she would do if any of her children wanted to join the RCMP she said: “I’d have my son pursue it, but I’d be very iffy about the girls.”

DAMAGE AWARD:

Here is how the almost $1 million in damages, lost wages and loss of future earnings was awarded:
$125,000, General damages
$600,000, Future wage loss
$225,000, Past wage loss
Total: $950,000

http://www.workplacebullying.org/2009/05/13/rcmp-2006/
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Re: RCMP Pays $1 Million for Harassment

Postby Thomas » Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:23 am

Bullying in the workplace affects staff mentally and physically

Nancy Sulz once looked forward to a lengthy career as an RCMP officer.


BY VANCOUVER SUN FEBRUARY 25, 2008

Nancy Sulz once looked forward to a lengthy career as an RCMP officer.

But that changed when a new boss took over the detachment and Sulz fell victim to a lengthy campaign of workplace bullying, which included public insults that she couldn’t “cut the mustard,” was “manipulative” and “afraid of the dark.”

Two years later, her physical and emotional health in a mess, Sulz took sick leave and never returned to duty.

“I am becoming terrified to come to work. I cannot eat or sleep. I’m on the verge of tears constantly and I’m starting to become convinced it is my fault,” she wrote in statements later filed in B.C. Supreme Court in support of a civil lawsuit against her employer and the province.

“I’m very sorry that this had to come down to this because I feel that I am probably going to be the one to suffer the consequences …”

It’s been over a decade now since Sulz — who was eventually awarded $950,000 by the courts — left her job. In that time, workplace harassment has become an increasingly public issue, both for corporations looking to recruit and maintain top employees, and a workforce that is no longer willing to swallow some poison for the sake of a paycheque.

That bullies exist in the workplace is undeniable these days. They take a variety of forms, from an angry boss who launches ugly verbal attacks across the boardroom table, to a colleague stealing another’s ideas to get ahead, to the shunning of a particular individual by co-workers.

In a recent survey in the United States, 37 per cent of respondents said they had direct experience with workplace bullying, with another 12 per cent agreeing they had witnessed such harassment.

The same survey found that in 72 per cent of the cases, a boss was identified as the bully. Women are at a greater risk of being bullied in the workplace (57 per cent), while men (60 per cent) are more likely to participate in aggressive bullying behaviour.

“That’s sad,” said Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash., which lobbies for anti-bullying legislation in the U.S. and Canada.

Darryl Grigg, a psychologist and corporate consultant who writes a column on workplace issues for The Vancouver Sun, said the extent of the problem has yet to be scientifically quantified in British Columbia.

But, he said, stories of abuse and humiliation on the job regularly flood in from readers on the topic of workplace abuse.

“It is really devastating for people,” Grigg said.

“It’s very isolating and it can be very humiliating. And when people are humiliated and embarrassed, they tend to go inside [themselves], rather than outside. So then you’re in a cycle of silent and continued injury and the longer it goes on, the worse you feel. It’s harder to get out.”

Clinical depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal illnesses, immunological deficiencies, and even post-traumatic stress disorder are all common diagnoses associated with those who’ve been bullied at work.

According to Namie, bullying is responsible for 18 per cent of all short-term disability claims at the office, with an average of 159 days of lost work with each claim.

Both Namie and Grigg recommend those who feel they are being bullied at work to speak out on the issue. That could mean taking the matter to company human resources departments, launching a grievance through a union, or filing a lawsuit or human rights complaint.

“If you personally accept what is unacceptable behaviour to you, there is a pretty significant erosion in your self-esteem,” said Grigg.

Grigg also suggests those who witness bullying have a responsibility to step up.

“If there is tolerance to the bullying behaviour, bullying will persist. Bullying doesn’t exist in a vacuum, ever,” he said.

Vancouver lawyer Alastair Wade said the kind of million-dollar settlement awarded to Sulz is no longer unusual, a fact that has not escaped the attention of corporations looking to avoid costly lawsuits.

Wade suggests those who feel they have been subject to workplace harassment to be aware of company policies around the issue, and bring it to human resources staff where it can be addressed more quickly and with less personal toll than if the matter heads to court.

Complaints should be substantiated through documentation, such as an offensive inter-office e-mail, or through witness corroboration, he said.

Regardless of how the situation is addressed, there are few happy endings in workplace bullying, said Namie.

Most people (64 per cent) who launch a complaint end up leaving their job, either by quitting or being fired, while another 13 per cent transfer to another part of the company.

“Most of the time, the price is paid by those [who are bullied],” he said.

dahansen@png.canwest.com

© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news ... 9bfb0afc36
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Re: RCMP Pays $1 Million for Harassment

Postby Thomas » Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:25 am

2006 BCSC 99 Nancy Sulz v. Attorney General of Canada et alIN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

Citation: Sulz v. Attorney General et al, 2006 BCSC 99:

http://op.bna.com/eg.nsf/id/pdon-6nemnd/$File/sulz.txt
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