The file photo shows the headquarters of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in Ottawa.
Five agents and analysts at Canada
’s spy service have filed a lawsuit against their managers over allegations of abusive behaviors, racism and Islamophobia.
On Thursday, the group of employees filed a $27.7 million lawsuit against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), claiming that they had been bullied for over a decade.
“CSIS is a workplace rife with discrimination
, harassment, bullying and abuse of authority, in which the tone set by management, namely to mock, abuse, humiliate and threaten employees, has permeated the workforce,” the lawsuit said.
The group said their managers constantly make derogatory remarks, including that all Muslims are “blood thirsty murderers” or “terrorists.”
In response, CSIS Director David Vigneault issued a statement on Friday, saying the agency takes the allegations very seriously.
“CSIS does not tolerate harassment, discrimination or bullying under any circumstances,” Vigneault said, but he declined to comment on the specific allegations.
The spy agency, which has 3,300 employees, has faced numerous problems since it was established in 1984. In November 2016, a Federal Court judge ruled that CSIS breached its duty to inform the court of its data-collection program.
Richard Fadden, who headed the intelligence service from 2009 to 2013, said he had not noticed such problems when he was in charge, adding, “If some of the allegations are true they need to be dealt with quickly.”
Over the past years, the Canadian armed forces have experienced similar issues.
Last November, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police offered an apology to female officers and civilian members. The police also settled claims of harassment, discrimination and sexual abuse made in two other court cases.