Canada CSIS ‘a workplace rife with discrimination,’ say employees in $35-million lawsuit alleging Islamophobia, racism and homophobia

08:21  08 november  2017
08:21  08 november  2017 Source:   Toronto Star

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discrimination ,’ say employees in $ 35 - million lawsuit alleging Islamophobia , racism and “Management created a workplace rife with discrimination , harassment and bullying through its Five CSIS employees are accusing the spy agency of Islamophobia , racism and homophobia in a

A $ 35 - million lawsuit filed by five employees at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service alleges a toxic workplace “ rife with discrimination ” including managers who openly Five CSIS employees accuse spy agency of Islamophobia , racism and homophobia by Andrew Russell on Scribd.

© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick "Members of management were well aware that the reality of the workplace bore no resemblance to the policies and procedures gathering dust in human resources,” the five employees said in their Tuesday filing.

Five employees suing Canada’s spy service on allegations that they were discriminated against and bullied by their managers say CSIS’s anti-harassment policies are nothing but “hollow words.”

The employees on Tuesday filed the latest legal salvo in a $35-million workplace harassment lawsuit, disputing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s defence that their allegations either have no merit, or had been appropriately addressed.

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“ CSIS is a workplace rife with discrimination , harassment, bullying and abuse of authority, in the which the tone set by management, namely to mock, abuse, humiliate and threaten employees , has permeated the workforce,” said the lawsuit .

“ CSIS is a workplace rife with discrimination , harassment, bullying and abuse of authority, in the which the tone set by management, namely to mock, abuse, humiliate and threaten employees , has permeated the workforce,” said the lawsuit .

“The Service has policies in place against discrimination and harassment, and purports to offer avenues of redress, however, these are nothing but hollow words. Actions tell a different story,” the 11-page reply filed Tuesday in Federal Court states. “Management created a workplace rife with discrimination, harassment and bullying through its tone at the top. Members of management were well aware that the reality of the workplace bore no resemblance to the policies and procedures gathering dust in human resources.”

The case is ongoing and none of the allegations have been proven in court. But since the five employees filed their lawsuit in July, claiming there was an “old boys’ club” culture at CSIS with managers who openly espoused Islamophobic, racist and homophobic views, the clandestine institution has received unprecedented scrutiny.

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Read more: Five CSIS employees are accusing the spy agency of Islamophobia , racism and homophobia in a $ 35 - million lawsuit . A statement of defence is usually filed after 30 days unless an extension is granted.

" CSIS is a workplace rife with discrimination , harassment, bullying and abuse of authority, in the which the tone set by management, namely to mock, abuse, humiliate and threaten employees , has permeated the workforce," said the lawsuit .

CSIS Director David Vigneault immediately issued a statement when the Star broke the news of the lawsuit, saying harassment is not tolerated. He later invited the five complainants to his office for a three-hour meeting to hear their allegations.

Last month, he publicly acknowledged that his agency has had problems with “retribution, favouritism, bullying.” Vigneault also released an executive summary of a “workplace climate assessment” conducted at CSIS’s Toronto office, where employees said there had been, “disrespectful, demeaning, misogynistic, offensive and inappropriate comments and jokes.”

“Employees feel that management did not show any accountability with regard to this past behaviour, and that they dismissed and minimalized this issue,” the report stated.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told the House of Commons the same day that there must be “appropriate consequences” for harassment and discrimination, but stopped short of ordering an investigation into workplace culture, as NDP public safety critic Matthew Dube had demanded.

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Five intelligence officers and analysts with Canada’s spy service have launched a $ 35 - million lawsuit against their employer, claiming the Canadian In addition to Alex, the CSIS employees making the allegations are a Muslim analyst with more than 20 years at the agency who alleges he was told he

CSIS employees say management created a workplace rife with discrimination , harassment and bullying through its tone at the top. Share on Facebook. A.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims reiterated that call to Goodale Monday, urging an investigation into the report’s findings. “Canadians need the reassurance that their national intelligence agency can carry out its mandate free of discrimination, racism and Islamophobia,” NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee wrote in a statement.

But the lawsuit concerns the veracity of the specific allegations made by the five employees — who are Muslim, gay or Black — and whether they deserve compensation for the alleged harassment.

All five of the complainants are still CSIS employees, but are on medical leave. Pseudonyms are used for both the complainants and managers who are cited in the lawsuit, since identifying a spy can be considered an offence under Canada’s Security of Information Act.

CSIS admitted in its statement of defence that “inappropriate language” was used, but disputed most of the specific allegations made by the employees, who are listed as “Alex,” “Bahira,” “Cemal,” “Emran,” and “Dina.” Other allegations of discrimination, the defence statement claimed, had been resolved internally in a fair, reasonable and timely way.

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“ CSIS is a workplace rife with discrimination , harassment, bullying and abuse of authority, in the which the tone set by management, namely to mock, abuse, humiliate and threaten employees , has permeated the workforce,” said the lawsuit .

Five employees of Canada's spy agency are seeking $ 35 - million in damages in a lawsuit claiming they suffered racist , sexist and homophobic discrimination The lawsuit alleges that over several years, each employee "has been harassed and discriminated against by CSIS management and

The complainants, who are represented by Toronto lawyer John Phillips, allege in their reply this week that they were penalized for stepping forward, and none of their complaints resulted in appropriate actions against the managers.

“Despite making a successful harassment complaint, Alex was supposed to report to work under one if his harassers,” the reply states.

“For Bahira, her Access to Information request disclosed an email in which a manager directed another employee to ‘disregard’ the majority of the items she requested.”

Read more:

Five CSIS employees are accusing the spy agency of Islamophobia, racism and homophobia in a $35-million lawsuit

Head of spy agency CSIS admits ‘retribution, favouritism, bullying’ in workplace

CSIS says harassment complainants don’t deserve $35 million as Goodale calls bullying at spy agency ‘unacceptable’

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