Thursday, January 04, 2007

B.C. Court of Appeal Upholds Sulz $950,000.00 Damages Award

I originally wrote on the trial decision in Sulz vs. Attorney General of Canada in March, 2006.

This important decision addressed the ongoing, serious harassment of a female RCMP officer by a superior officer. Ms. Sulz suffered very significant damage, emotional harm and long-term disability. Ultimately, the harassment she was subjected to led to the end of her career with the Force.

Recently, the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected an appeal of the British Columbia government, and upheld the trial court's damages award of $950,000.00 in favour of Ms. Sulz.

The Appeal Court's decision is here.

I am excerpting below from an interview with Ms. Sulz in the Merritt-Herald newspaper, following the December 21, 2006 appellate decision:

For Nancy Sulz the end is in sight.

B.C.’s court of appeal has upheld the ex-Mountie’s victory in the harassment case she filed against the RCMP. They ruled that the provincial government would have to pay $950,000 in damages.

Sulz says it feels like another victory, but she is still apprehensive because the province has 60 days to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“There’s always that hesitation – are we done?” she explains. “Typically that wouldn’t happen, but they have given us no indication as to whether they plan to take it further.”

Sulz filed the suit after being harassed by her boss when she served as a constable with the Merritt RCMP. She returned to work after a medical leave following the birth of her second child and found her commanding officer, Donald Smith, began treating her in a demeaning manner that left her unable to do her job. Sulz says the treatment only continued to escalate, and it eventually became clear it was not going to end.

In 1996, after almost a year, Sulz went on paid long-term medical leave. In 1999, it was requested that she ask for a medical discharge. She did and in 2000 her time as an RCMP officer officially ended.

Unfortunately, the stress didn’t end when she left the department, and so she filed a suit against the province, Smith and the Attorney General of Canada.

Almost a year ago, in January 2006, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in her favour based on what they believed to be extensive harassment by her superior officer. It was “so debilitating, the woman was left unable to work” according to Justice George Lamperson, the B.C. supreme court judge who originally ruled in Sulz’s favour.


- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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