Ex-B.C. pipeline camp leader sues for sexual assault and failure to warn of protests

A woman who worked as a chef at a Coastal GasLink pipeline labor camp is suing the company and the contractor who hired her for allegedly exposing her to ‘harassing and abusive behavior from disabled employees’. ‘drunk’.

In a notice of claim filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia earlier this month, the woman – whom the CBC identifies by her initials, JM – said she was ‘sexually assaulted’ by someone who kissed her in one of the camps without her consent and “caressed, then forcibly grabbed” her buttocks.

The 30-year-old is suing both Civeo Premium Services – the company that provides accommodation and hospitality to workers constructing the 670-kilometre gas pipeline – and Coastal GasLink, which she calls “the proxy defendant”.

JM is suing Civeo for breach of contract and both companies for negligence and damages she claims she suffered due to a “callous disregard” for her privacy and well-being.

She claims that the companies have not “considered the adequacy [their] officers, employees and guests, particularly in light of the remote nature of the worksite and the prevalence of sexual violence at these remote work sites. »

She also alleges that Civeo and Coastal GasLink did not give her the opportunity to evacuate before last fall’s protest blockade, which cut off water and supplies.

“Even more humiliated”

If completed, the Coastal GasLink pipeline will stretch from near Dawson Creek in eastern British Columbia to Kitimat on the Pacific coast.

JM says she began working in June 2021 as an executive chef at 9A Lodge and P2 Lodge, labor camps located on a remote resource road about 100 miles east of Houston.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline protest checkpoint in 2019. JM claims the company and its contractors did not give it the chance to evacuate ahead of a blockade that cut off supply to worksites on the other side demonstrations. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

His employment ended in April 2022.

She claims the alleged sexual assault happened in her private office when a Coastal GasLink ‘agent’ kissed her without her consent, grabbed her buttocks and made ‘inappropriate’ comments about her body.

She claims her employers failed to investigate properly and her supervisor leaked details of the incident to colleagues and subordinates, leaving her “even more humiliated”.

JM says insufficient staffing levels meant she and her team worked up to 20 hours a day for 30-40 day rotations. When she was hired, she says she was told she would have 10 days off after 20 days there.

When she complained, she claims she was subjected to “poor performance reviews and kitchen audits in retaliation”.

“Unsanitary and dangerous”

The Coastal GasLink pipeline has been the subject of ongoing protests supporting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who say Coastal GasLink does not have consent to cross their territory.

The company won a court injunction preventing protesters from interfering with the construction of the pipeline, which led to dozens of arrests last November after the company complained that 500 of its workers were trapped behind three blocks.

The British Columbia Prosecution Service is expected to announce this week whether those arrests will result in criminal contempt charges against 27 protesters.

At the time of the lockdowns, the company warned that water and supplies could run out as access to the outside world was choked off and workers may not be able to access medical care in an emergency.

In her lawsuit, JM claims that Civeo and Coastal GasLink failed to notify her of the “imminent blockade of protesters”, which left her and others stranded in labor camps.

She accuses the companies of “restricting access to supplies, water and septic services at 9A Lodge and P2 Lodge, creating an unsanitary and unsafe working and living environment.”

JM claims that she and her kitchen crew were not allowed “to wash their clothes or leave their workstations to bathe for about 10 days on three separate occasions”.

She claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and the situation worsened a pre-existing heart condition.

She says companies had a duty to ‘provide a safe and humane work environment’ and ‘properly educate and train staff members on matters of professional conduct, including the harmful and dangerous effects of misconduct. sexual”.

None of the companies filed a response to the claim. Coastal GasLink said it would not comment on the case while it is in court. Civeo did not respond to a request for comment.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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