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Former chef of remote Coastal GasLink camp sues for sexual battery, unsanitary workplace

Woman says nothing was done after she was groped against her consent
The Coastal GasLink pipeline near Parsnip River crossing in northern B.C., February 2022. The company is being sued by a former chef who worked at one of its remote camps. (Coastal GasLink photo)

A woman who worked as an executive chef at one of Coastal GasLink’s remote camps is suing the company and her direct employer for allegedly failing to prevent or take action against harassing and abusive behaviour.

The 30-year-old, who Black Press Media is identifying by her initials J.M., filed her claim with the B.C. Supreme Court on May 11. She claims that during her time cooking for pipeline workers near Houston, B.C., from June 2021 to April 2022 she endured “harassing and abusive behaviours by inebriated employees, agents, and guests,” including one instance of sexual battery.

J.M. says she was in her private office when someone entered, embraced her and then fondled and forcibly grabbed her buttocks against her consent, while inappropriately commenting on her body.

After making a complaint to her supervisor, J.M. alleges they shared details of the complaint with colleagues, as well as ridiculed and dismissed her experience.

In other instances, J.M. claims female kitchen staff faced inappropriate and discriminatory behaviour. When she complained about it, J.M. says she received poor performance reviews and kitchen audits.

Her and her team faced other adverse work conditions, according to the claim.

J.M. says a lack of staffing meant they often worked more than 20 hours a day for 30-to-40-day stints, despite her contract stating she would work only 20 days on-site followed by 10 days off. When protesters came to blockade the area, J.M. says they weren’t told in advance and had no chance to leave.

READ ALSO: Protests renewed along CGL pipeline near Houston

She says they also endured an unsanitary environment due to restricted supplies, water and septic services.

“…the defendants did not permit the plaintiff and her kitchen team to wash their clothes or leave their workstation to bathe for a period of approximately 10 days on three separate occasions,” the claim states.

J.M. claims Coastal GasLink and Civeo Premium Services, which was contracted for accommodation and hospitality services, failed to fulfill their duty of care to her.

She says it was their responsibility to provide a safe and humane workplace environment and properly screen and train incoming and current staff on sexual misconduct, especially considering the prevalence of sexual violence at remote worksites. She says they failed to establish or enforce guidelines around sexual assault, and failed to protect her after she reported being groped.

Additionally, J.M. says Civeo breached their contract by dismissing her without notice in April 2022.

She says as a result of her experiences she has and continues to suffer from physical and emotional injuries, including a worsening of her pre-existing heart condition, PTSD, depression, anxiety, shame and humiliation and paranoia and intrusive thoughts, among others.

Neither of the companies have filed a response to J.M.’s claim as of publication. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

READ ALSO: Parents pushing B.C. to expand sexual assault, harassment and consent education

READ ALSO: Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate


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