OTTAWA - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Monday faced a possible class action lawsuit after two of its officers sued alleging "systemic bullying, intimidation and harassment."
The lawsuit seeks an estimated Can$1.1 billion (US$825 million) from the federal police force, lawyer Won Kim told AFP.
The suit also invites all current 28,000 RCMP staff as well as former employees who did not share in a 2016 settlement for sexual harassment and gender discrimination at work to join in.
The class action status, however, must still be certified by a court. Also a defense response has not yet been filed, and the allegations have not been tested in court.
Staff Sergeant Geoffrey Greenwood, 52, and Sergeant Todd Gray, 53, point in court documents to a "toxic" work environment at the RCMP which they say caused them "significant career limitations," as well as physical and psychological trauma.
This was compounded by the fact that, because the RCMP was not allowed until 2015 to form a union, officers had no place to turn to seek redress for their grievances.
In October 2016, then RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson formally apologized to policewomen who had faced sexual or gender based harassment as part of a Can$100 million (US$75 million) settlement of two other class actions.
"We failed you. We hurt you. For that I'm truly sorry," he said then.
Paulson also vowed new initiatives to stamp out discrimination and abuse in the federal police force -- tasks which now fall to new commissioner Brenda Lucki, who in March became the first woman to lead the storied institution.
Greenwood says he was "ridiculed and ostracized by his superiors" for investigating possible corruption within the RCMP.
An informant told Greenwood that someone within the RCMP was leaking the identity of undercover agents, and the location of surveillances and upcoming drug raids in exchange for cash.
Under pressure from bosses, the probe was eventually dropped.
Gray says he was humiliated and injured while tasked to the RCMP Musical Ride equestrian event, and was blackballed after complaining.
In one example, he said he was forced to ride in a trailer with a dozen horses, having to sleep and defecate with them on long trips across Canada.
Another time, he said he was ordered to ride "hunched over" after reporting he had a back injury.
© Agence France-Presse