The B.C. Supreme Court has awarded a former RCMP constable $950,000 in damages after prolonged mistreatment by her supervisors left her so clinically depressed she required a medical discharge from the force.
The evidence established that the plaintiff had been harassed by her commanding officer since 1994. The commanding officer was verbally abusive, made derogatory comments about the plaintiff’s abilities and suitability for her job both to her and her colleagues, was deliberately unhelpful to her on several occasions and blocked her transfer to another unit.
This conduct continued until the plaintiff commenced sick leave in February 1996. She never returned to work and instead accepted a medical discharge from the force in 2000.
The court concluded that the commanding officer had committed the tort of negligent infliction of mental suffering and was therefore entitled to damages.
The commanding officer was protected from suit by virtue of both federal and provincial legislation. Further, as the plaintiff had received a federal pension as a result of her allegations, the federal Crown was also immune. The Crown in British Columbia, however, was held to be vicariously liable for the actions of the commanding officer, as he filled the role of a provincial police officer under a policing agreement between the federal and provincial governments.
On this basis, the Court ordered the provincial Crown to pay the plaintiff $125,000 in general damages for the mental stress and depression she continues to suffer, $225,000 for past lost wages and $600,000 in future lost wages.