For Immediate Release
CUPE Local #3197 revealed today that five female Edmonton paramedics have filed sexual harassment complaints with the Alberta Human Rights & Citizenship Commission against the City of Edmontons Emergency Response Department.
The complaints were filed December 4, 5 and 6th, 2000 after numerous harassment complaints to ERD management were ignored or resulted in no action. In recent months, CUPE Local #3197 has strongly encouraged City management to resolve the matter internally but the City has been unable or unwilling to do so.
We would have preferred to resolve this internally but the individuals who have laid the complaints are facing escalating retaliation. In order to protect them, and get the City to do the right thing, we felt we had no choice but to ask the Commission to immediately launch its investigation, said Tim Martin, an Edmonton paramedic and Vice-President of CUPE Local #3197.
CUPE Local #3197 has filed a separate complaint with the Commission on the grounds of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. The complaints reflect years of abuse.
Key elements to the individual or group complaints are:
- Lack of safe, clean, private and accessible female washrooms and rest areas since Emergency Medical Staff were first deployed from fire stations in 1992. To date, construction of female facilities has been completed in only a few fire stations.
- Sexually explicit materials frequently found in fire stations, especially in washroom areas. Inappropriate posters of women in various states of undress are displayed in common areas and rest areas in fire stations.
- Males walk around fire stations unclothed or insufficiently clothed.
- Harassment of female paramedics by males in the form of unauthorized signage and drawings as well as unwelcome comments which are demeaning, degrading, humiliating and otherwise disrespectful.
- Escalation of the harassment in recent months, coinciding with a rise in complaints by
female paramedics. In some cases, this harassment has resulted in direct and indirect threats.
Martin said retaliation by ERD staff and management against women who complain about harassment, and any male ERD members who support them, has been a chronic problem and continues today.
It is interfering with the ability of both male and female paramedics to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. These are longstanding issues that we have been unable to resolve in our dealings with the City. We felt we had no choice but to go to the Alberta Human Rights Commission for help.
Shirish Chotalia, a partner in the Edmonton law firm Pundit & Chotalia, is assisting the five individual complainants and CUPE Local #3197 in bringing their cases before the Commission.
For more information contact:
Tim Martin, V-P, CUPE Local #3197. PH: 455-3197 CEL: 907-2594
Shirish Chotalia, partner, Pundit & Chotalia. PH: 421-0861
Phone: 780-455-3197 Fax: 780-488-1743