Female Mountie passed over for promotion takes force to court

A veteran member of the RCMP has applied to the Federal Court for a judicial review challenging a promotion decision made by her superiors. Sgt. Jill Swann told Global News the court challenge follows years of harassment.

“It impacts people around you, your home life, your activities, your occupied thoughts, your energy,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Female constable challenging RCMP in court'

Female constable challenging RCMP in court

In 2017 Swann filed a civil suit alleging the RCMP failed to provide a safe workplace.

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Alleged harassment against her included a supervisor sending her condoms after the birth of her child, calling her “meth face” and commenting about her weight.

In the settlement of her civil claim and a parallel human rights complaint, the RCMP agreed to give Swann priority entitlement to a promotion to a sergeant rank in a non-general duty position on Vancouver Island, say the statements of fact filed by both parties in Federal Court.

But when she applied for sergeant position with the Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) unit, she didn’t get the job despite meeting the requirements, according to her lawyer Sebastien Anderson.

“Sex discrimination in the RCMP has not been eradicated,” Anderson told Global News. “Swann was denied a promotional opportunity that she should have had by applying criteria that the decision-maker just made up. They were not in the job description, and she should have had priority entitlement to the position in accordance with the settlement.”

Click to play video: 'RCMP sexual harassment settlements'

RCMP sexual harassment settlements

In documents filed in Federal Court in response to Swann’s claim, the federal government and RCMP claim the promotion decision was impartial and based on merit.

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“Cpl. Swann did not have any experience with national or international organized crime investigations, including leadership or oversight of such projects,” the government’s court filings state, citing the rationale of the officer who made the hiring decision.

The government’s legal response further argues that the case should be dismissed because the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter, which it said should have been addressed as a grievance under the RCMP’s collective agreement.

Swann told Global News that during her 26 years with the RCMP she has trained with the FBI, worked as a crisis negotiator and an arson investigator.

Now, even after years of harassment, she says she still loves the job.

“You really get to help people and you get to help people in a time of need and you get to make a difference,” she said.

As for Sgt. Swann’s court challenge, Federal Court Justice Elizabeth Walker has reserved her decision.

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