The Federal Court has approved a $900 million settlement of a military sexual misconduct class action, initiated by a Yarmouth woman who endured discrimination, harassment and abuse during her years of service.
During the time Glynis Rogers served, she was subjected to “persistent and systemic gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination, bullying, and harassment by male members,” leading to her diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder.
In August 2016, 10 years after enrolling, Rogers took a medical dismissal.
Halifax law firm Wagners filed a national class action in November 2016 on behalf of representative plaintiff Rogers.
Five similar class actions were filed across Canada following Rogers’ filing and were brought together for the settlement.
On Monday, Justice Simon Fothergill issued his decision on the case that will provide compensation to current and former members of the Forces and Department of National Defence staff.
Women and those who identify as LGBTQ2+ who experienced gender-based discrimination will be provided $5,000.
Victims of sexual misconduct are eligible for payments from $5,000 to $50,000.
Victims who had or currently have PTSD or other mental or physical injuries originating from sexual assault or harassment or have been denied Veterans Affairs Canada benefit are eligible for payments up to $155,000.
The federal government didn’t admit liability in the case.
Rogers could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Ray Wagner said his client is very pleased with the settlement.
“She was the face of the very first action and engaged at every stage, including attending in the certification hearings and settlement approval hearings that took place in Ottawa on three different days before Justice Fothergill, so she saw it all,” Wagner said.
Aside from the financial compensation, a space will also be provided for current and former members to tell higher ranks of the Forces the trauma they’ve experienced.
Fern McCuish, who says she was abused by a group of male colleagues when she was a civilian at CFB Halifax, said she believes having a safe space to bring issues forward will change the Forces’ culture.
“I know, even for myself, I was afraid to bring anything forward because who are you going to bring it forward to? Often cases you’re going to bring it forward to the very people that are acting that way,” McCuish said.
“Now members coming in, male and female, will know this behaviour isn’t tolerated anymore.”
McCuish said she’s satisfied with the compensation, but the Forces and DND acknowledging what women and the LGBTQ2+ community have endured is more important for her.
“That’s the biggest thing for me, that it’s not going to be swept under the carpet,” McCuish said.
“You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. This is a long time coming. It’s warranted, it’s needed and it’s time to change.”
Victims are able to apply by submitting a claim at www.caf-dndsexualmisconductclassaction.ca or by mail. Claims will be accepted from March 25 to Sept. 24, 2021.