CSIS faces $35 million harassment, discrimination lawsuit - Macleans.ca

CSIS faces $35 million harassment, discrimination lawsuit

Statement of claim alleges harassment, bullying and “abuse of authority'” is rife within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service

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A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. The controversial data-crunching centre run by Canada's spy agency has long been using personal details gleaned from security clearance forms to help with national security probes -- a practice that worries the federal privacy watchdog, newly disclosed letters show. The correspondence reveals that for at least five years the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's Operational Data Analysis Centre has drawn upon private information -- provided during security assessments for employment and immigration purposes -- to assist with CSIS terrorism and espionage investigations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Canada’s spy agency is being sued by five employees who are looking for upwards of $35 million in damages over allegations of years of harassment and discrimination based on their religion, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

A statement of claim filed in Federal Court alleges that harassment, bullying and “abuse of authority” is rife within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and that managers condone such behaviour.

The allegations are based on the experiences of five employees, none of whom can be legally identified within the document.

They allege that the harassment they have faced over years has caused them embarrassment, depression, anxiety and loss of income. They also allege that their complaints were ignored or dismissed by senior managers, some of whom suggested they should keep quiet out of fear of reprisal.

None of the allegations in the 54-page document have been tested in court.

In a statement, CSIS director David Vigneault says the agency does not tolerate harassment under any circumstance, which is reflected in the employee code of conduct.

Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour are taken seriously, he says.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale have yet to respond to a request for comment.

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