Five agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) have filed a lawsuit against management, accusing them of homophobia, racism, and Islamophobia, as well as humiliation and abuse.
The employees are asking for CAN$35 million ($US27.7 million) from the CSIS, saying that the agency is “a workplace rife with discrimination, harassment, bullying and abuse of authority, in which the tone set by management, namely to mock, abuse, humiliate and threaten employees, has permeated the workforce,” the statement of the claim reads.
The document says that CSIS management “has not only allowed this culture to thrive, it has actively inculcated this culture, openly rejecting and mocking respectful workplace norms. This tone and approach has been dictated from the top, and adopted throughout the organization, resulting in an environment in which employees recognize that upward mobility and career success can be achieved through rejecting respectful workplace conduct and visibly aligning with the misconduct of management,” as cited by CTV News.
Three employees who are suing the agency are Muslim, one is gay, and one is black.
The allegations are contained in a 54-page statement of claim filed in Federal Court on July 13 and obtained by local media.
All the plaintiffs and their bosses and colleagues referenced in the lawsuit are identified only by pseudonyms.
A Toronto intelligence officer who has served for 15 years, identified in the claim as ‘Alex,’ is gay and has a Muslim partner. In the claim, he alleges that his manager had sent him an email in October 2015 that said, “Careful your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being homo.”
Another boss, indicated as ‘Joe,’ allegedly wrote: “You’re just a fag hiding in your little corner sobbing.”
The claimants also said that the managers regularly made derogatory comments about the employees, calling Muslims “blood thirsty murderers” or “terrorists.”
An unidentified witness mentioned in the claim that “The public would be shocked about this if they only knew; we keep our own secrets.”
CSIS head David Vigneault responded to the situation, declining, however, to comment on the specific claims.
“The Canadian Security Intelligence Service takes any allegation of inappropriate behaviour very seriously,” he said. “CSIS does not tolerate harassment, discrimination or bullying under any circumstances,” he said in a statement on Friday.
There are 3,300 employees at CSIS, which was created in 1984.