Certification Hearing Dates Set in Canadian Armed Forces Systemic Sexual Assault and Harassment Class Actions

TORONTO, June 5, 2017 /CNW/ - The path has now been cleared for certification hearings to proceed in two class actions alleging systemic sexual assault and harassment on behalf of members of the Canadian Armed Forces. The Honourable Mr. Justice Fothergill of the Federal Court on May 30, 2017 ordered the motions for certification to proceed in Toronto from July 9 to 13, 2018. The defendant in the class actions is The Attorney General of Canada.

On March 27, 2015, former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Marie Deschamps released a report entitled "External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces". Following months of consultations, interviews and a review of Canadian Armed Forces policies, procedures and programs in relation to sexual harassment and sexual assault, Justice Deschamps' report concluded that the Canadian Armed Forces maintained a hostile, sexualized workplace, and there was a "perception in the lower ranks that those in the chain of command either condone inappropriate sexual conduct, or are willing to turn a blind-eye to such incidents."

Sherry Heyder, Amy Graham and Nadine Schultz-Nielsen are the plaintiffs in the Federal Court class action on behalf of women. They experienced sexual assault, harassment and gender-based discrimination. Larry Beattie is the plaintiff in the Federal Court class action on behalf of men. He, too, experienced sexual harassment and assault while he was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. All individuals who have been harmed share a similar story. The Statements of Claim allege that sexual assault and harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces are endemic and the Canadian Armed Forces has created and maintained a culture where leadership looks the other way. The actions are supported by It's Just 700, a Canada-wide online resource and peer support group for survivors of Military Sexual Trauma.

"This is the first step in getting justice and recognition for what I and so many others have had to endure," said plaintiff Amy Graham.

"Now that Justice Fothergill has scheduled the motions for certification, we have a clear path to having the victims' voices heard," said Jonathan Ptak, counsel at Koskie Minsky LLP, one of the law firms representing the class members. "Now the ball is in Canada's court to answer our allegations."

If you are a current or former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who has experienced sexual harassment or assault, please call 1(888) 502-7455, visit www.kmlaw.ca/militaryassaultclassaction or www.ravenlaw.com/armed-forces-class-action, or email militaryassaultclassaction@kmlaw.ca or armedforcesclassaction@ravenlaw.com.

Koskie Minsky LLP, based in Toronto, is one of Canada's foremost class action, pension, trade union, and litigation firms. Its class actions group has been a leader in class actions since 1992 and has prosecuted many of the leading cases in the area. Koskie Minsky LLP was counsel to the survivors of former residents of Huronia Regional Centre and 14 other residential facilities for people with disabilities against the Province of Ontario, wherein the Province agreed to pay survivors over $103.6 million and to provide an apology to former residents for the harm they sustained. Koskie Minsky LLP was also counsel in Cloud v. Canada, the first Indian residential schools class action certified in Canada, which resulted in a $4 billion pan-Canadian settlement.

Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP/s.r.l., is an Ottawa-based law firm specializing in labour/employment, human rights, and public law, with involvement in class action litigation. RavenLaw has extensive experience in addressing systemic gender-based discrimination. The firm was counsel in the historic $3.2 billion pay equity win for federal public service employees, the $150 million pay equity award against Canada Post at the Supreme Court of Canada, and numerous other pay equity cases, including most recently the $45 million pay equity settlement at Statistical Survey Operations. RavenLaw has been appointed as amicus curiae by the Supreme Court of Canada and has argued leading cases in the area of human rights and constitutional law.

SOURCE Koskie Minsky LLP

For further information: Jonathan Ptak, Koskie Minsky LLP, (416) 595-2149, jptak@kmlaw.ca; Andrew Raven, Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne and Yazbeck LLP, (613) 567-2901, araven@ravenlaw.com

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