A female Mountie has launched legal action against the RCMP after a harassment claim involving Windex and other demeaning comments was dismissed.
The Mountie, Nicole Patapoff, is still with the RCMP and is pursuing a court case after a harassment claim was dismissed by the force’s Independent Centre for Harassment Resolution (ICHR).
According to court records obtained by Daily Hive, Patapoff took legal action so that the ICHR could look at the complaint for a “fresh determination by a different investigator.”
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Court documents suggest that the initial harassment complaint was made by Patapoff on August 1, 2021, based on events that happened on June 8, 2021, during the Annual Firearms Qualification (AFQ) training at the Pacific Region Training Centre.
During the training, Paul Christensen was assigned as Patapoff’s Line Officer.
At some point, Patapoff stated she was told by the RCMP Line Officer to “go home, get a bottle of Windex, and get into [her] kitchen and bathroom and just start cleaning” to strengthen her trigger finger.
According to the documents, Patapoff found the statement to be “misogynistic, belittling, offensive, disrespectful, demeaning and unnecessary.” The court records suggest that Patapoff did not struggle with her finger strength during AFQ testing.
The documents also state that, at one point, Patapoff was referred to as “itty-bitty” and was told to be extra cautious because the member next to her was much taller, and if she weren’t careful, she would risk shooting that person in the head.
When Patapoff was leaving the facility, the Line Officer apparently followed her outside and, from about 25 metres away, “loudly” called her by her first name to say:
- “I didn’t even recognize you!”
- “I love your hair!”
None of these allegations has been proven in court.
How the ICHR determines what constitutes “harassment”
Under the ICHR, harassment can include:
- making offensive jokes or remarks about a person
- persistently criticizing, undermining, belittling, demeaning, or ridiculing a person
- an indecent act with intent to insult or offend any person, including for a sexual purpose
Further, the policy states that sexual harassment can include but is not limited to:
- insults or demeaning comments about a person’s gender or gender role
- staring at a person or parts of their body
- treating a person differently because they do not conform to the gender role that one expects, such as a role that has been traditionally occupied by another gender
- making sexually explicit comments or gender-based jokes to a person
However, the ICHR investigator said that none of Patapoff’s complaints constituted harassment. Court documents state that on March 6, Patapoff was informed that the investigator who decided to dismiss her complaint was no longer on the list of approved investigators investigating harassment involving the RCMP.
That investigator said the Line Officer’s comments “did not intend to cause any harm” and were just a “poor choice of words.”
Daily Hive spoke with the lawyer representing Patapoff, Sébastien Anderson, who is with the Labour Rights Law Office.
He said that after this case went public, they received lots of calls from RCMP members and other federal government employees.
In essence, Anderson said that Patapoff wants her harassment complaint to be acknowledged as legitimate, not dismissed as it was previously.
Anderson reflected on the investigation into Patapoff’s case and how the Line Officer did not intend to cause harm, adding that intent “is not a prerequisite” when determining sexual harassment occurred.
The RCMP has received Daily Hive’s request for comment.