A woman who worked as an executive chef at one of Coastal GasLink’s outpost camps is suing the company and her direct employer for allegedly failing to prevent or take action against harassing and abusive behavior.
The 30-year-old woman, whom Black Press Media identifies by her initials JM, filed her complaint with the Supreme Court of British Columbia on May 11. She claims that during her time cooking for pipeline workers near Houston, B.C., from June 2021 to April 2022, she experienced “harassment and abusive behavior from employees, d ‘intoxicated officers and guests’, including a case of sexual assault.
JM says she was in her private office when someone came in, kissed her, then fondled and forcefully grabbed her buttocks against her consent, while making inappropriate comments about her body.
After filing a complaint with her supervisor, JM alleges that they shared details of the complaint with co-workers, as well as ridiculed and dismissed her experience.
In other cases, JM says female kitchen staff have faced inappropriate and discriminatory behavior. When she complained about it, JM says she received bad performance reviews and kitchen audits.
She and her team had to deal with other adverse working conditions, according to the claim.
JM says a shortage of staff meant they often worked over 20 hours a day for periods of 30 to 40 days, despite her contract stipulating that she would only work 20 days on site followed by 10 days off. When protesters came to block the area, JM says they had no advance warning and had no chance of leaving.
She says they also endured an unsanitary environment due to limited supply, water and septic services.
“…defendants did not permit plaintiff and her kitchen crew to wash their clothes or leave their workstations to bathe for a period of approximately 10 days on three separate occasions,” the claim states. .
JM claims that Coastal GasLink and Civeo Premium Services, which were contracted for accommodation and hospitality services, failed in their duty of care to her.
She says it was their responsibility to provide a safe and humane work environment and to properly screen and train incoming and current staff on sexual misconduct, especially given the prevalence of sexual violence at the sites of distant work. She says they did not establish or enforce sexual assault guidelines and did not protect her after she reported being groped.
Additionally, JM says that Civeo breached their contract by firing her without notice in April 2022.
She says that as a result of her experiences, she has and continues to suffer from physical and emotional injuries, including worsening of her pre-existing heart condition, PTSD, depression, anxiety, shame and humiliation and paranoia and intrusive thoughts, among others.
Neither company has filed a response to JM’s claim as of press time. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
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Supreme Court of British ColumbiaBritish ColumbiaCoastal GasLinksexual assaultsexual misconduct