A Victoria woman who says she was forced out of the navy after reporting she was sexually assaulted by a superior has begun a proposed class-action lawsuit against the government.
Nicola Peffers, who trained and deployed out of CFB Esquimalt, filed the notice of civil claim over systemic “discrimination, bullying, harassment and sexual assault of members and employees of the Canadian Armed Forces by other CAF personnel,” according to court documents.
Peffers recently told CTV News she had only served on one mission to Okinawa in 2009 when she reported that her superior sexually assaulted her at sea.
But Peffers said instead of her superior being punished, she was ostracized and eventually pushed out of service for mental health issues.
“CAF personnel, including officers and other controlling minds of the CAF were aware of and condoned an atmosphere of misogyny and objectification of women, as well as degradation of and hostility towards the Plaintiff and Affected Members,” documents say.
It also alleges that CAF personnel retaliated against those who sought to report sex assaults and discrimination by labelling them “troublemakers” and failing to prevent retaliation.
The suit, which is proposed on behalf of all female or LGBTQ-identifying current and former CAF members, alleges the military failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the behaviour.
Peffers and others are seeking unspecified costs for damages including loss of dignity and violation of human rights.
A recent Statistics Canada survey found that nearly 1,000 people in the armed forces reported being victims of sexual assault within the last year.
A majority of those incidents were said to involve “unwanted touching,” and women were four times more likely to report being sexually assaulted than men.