Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Historic settlement reached in class action lawsuit against City of Leduc

By CFF Staff   

Department News Headlines News female firefighters fire department settlement sexual misconduct

June 22, 2023, Leduc, Alta. – A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit against the City of Leduc for workplace misconduct against female employees, including female firefighters.

The lawsuit was filed in February 2022 by two former Leduc female firefighters, Christa Steele and Mindy Smith, and alleged systemic discrimination, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault.

Steele said in a press release the goal of the lawsuit was to stop the discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault she and other women working for the city were experiencing and shine a light on it.

Steele said she also wanted to hold those responsible for the years of abuse accountable.

“There remains a lot of work to do, but I am relieved that Leduc has finally acknowledged the harm that women suffered in a workplace where they were preyed upon and sexual assault was acceptable and without consequence,” she said.

This is the first settlement of a class action involving sexual misconduct and sexual assault in a fire department or municipality in Canada.

As per the settlement, each member of the class is eligible for financial compensation between $10,000 and $285,000. Additionally, any woman who worked at the City of Leduc over the past 20 years is eligible to participate in the class action.

The city will also implement a confidential, non-adversarial, and non-confrontational claims process to facilitate claimant participation and provide a safe way for women to come forward.

Other measures include a public apology from the mayor and a requirement that the city take the necessary steps to ensure the women who participate in the class action or who make a claim do not face retaliation.

The City of Leduc released a statement saying its goal is to prevent and address sexual misconduct by reaffirming a commitment to implementing policies and procedures that would ensure a safe environment, promote awareness and education, prioritize the well-being and safety of everyone, and foster a culture of respect, consent, and accountability.

“Healing will take time. Rebuilding trust will take time. We will do the necessary work and engage in ongoing conversations to ensure that our city is a place where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued,” said Leduc City Manager Derek Prohar in a press release.

The settlement is subject to court approval and a hearing is scheduled for July in Edmonton for the approval.

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