Former sailor in Canadian navy files sexual harassment suit

Woman at head of class action suit claiming sexual harassment and assault is tolerated in Canadian Armed forces
||Last Updated: 01/03/2017

A former Canadian navy sailor is filing sexual harassment charges against the military, according to a report by the Victoria News.

Nicola Peffers, 32, is at the head of a class action suit against the Canadian Armed Forces, alleging sexual harassment and assault against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) people serving in the forces. Peffers served in the navy from 2007 to 2012, when she was medically discharged.

The lawsuit claims Peffers was the victim of multiple incidents of harassment, such as a commanding officer making unwanted advances while she was stationed on a ship, as well as sexual assault and sexual touching against her wishes, and poor treatment from other members of the military because she was a woman. The lawsuit also claims several others who served in the military have suffered such treatment, saying the problem was “pervasive” in the Canadian military and condoned by Canadian Forces personnel and officers.

The law firm handling the lawsuit, Victoria-based Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota, set up a hotline for current and former Canadian military personnel to report sexual assault or harassment and has received several calls a day.

“There's a systemic problem that has to be addressed. All of the individuals who have been touched by discrimination and by conduct that's really not acceptable in our society,” Peffers’ lawyer, Natalie Foley, told the Victoria News.

Last year, the Canadian Forces launched Operation Honour, a program designed to deal with sexual harassment after an independent review by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps found sexual misconduct was tolerated by leadership in the Canadian military.

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