Nova Scotia Firefighter to Receive a Formal Apology For Sexual Harassment

A female firefighter with the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Services who fought a 12-year legal battle over sexual harassment, has agreed to settle her claims in exchange for city officials issuing a public apology.

Liane Tessier made her initial sexual harassment complaint in 2005. Thereafter, she claims she was severely retaliated against by her colleagues including being subjected to “malicious gossip, “ostracized” and eventually forced to leave the fire service.

She says the city’s human relations consultant “minimized and denied” her complaints, and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission dismissed her case. It was not until she appealed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court that progress was made.

The Hamilton Spectator quoted Tessier as saying:

  • What’s hard about this last 12 years is that I had to speak and fight for my basic rights.
  • And then I was getting retaliated against and had to eventually leave a job that I loved.
  • There is a real double standard that is really evident and sort of infuriating.
  • It made me crazy how I was treated so badly just because I wanted to have a better workplace for myself.
  • Gender-based violence is not going to stop because of this apology.
  • But hopefully my struggle, the settlement, and the apology will put other employers on notice as well.

The apology is scheduled to be issued next week by the city. In addition, Tessier will receive an undisclosed financial settlement and the city agreed to implement eight policy changes including tracking of hiring statistics, making it “safer” for female firefighters to speak out, and monitoring of the policy changes by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.

More on the story.


About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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