Spy agency employees reveal shocking allegations of toxic workplace culture
Five employees of the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency have filed a lawsuit seeking $35 million from their employer alleging they have suffered from a workplace rife with racism, homophobia and anti-Muslim discrimination.
The allegations against Canada’s spy agency are made by five people, all veterans of the force, in a court document obtained by CTV News. None of the allegations has been proven in court.
CTV has reached out to CSIS for comment but has not received a response.
The first set of allegations have been put forward by a gay man with a Muslim partner and 15 years of service, who says he was forced to take an extended sick leave. He alleges that:
- An email was sent to him that stated, “hey tapette, you’re just a fag hiding in you little corner sobbing.”
- An email was sent between members of management that stated “careful your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being a homo.”
- An email was sent that stated “OT for the homo is approved.”
- A member of management joked in front of colleagues that the plaintiff “took it from behind.”
- A member of management yelled that “all Muslims are terrorists.”
Another of the complainants, a Muslim woman of African descent with 15 years service alleges:
- A colleague displayed a cartoon that called the Muslim Prophet Mohammed a dog.
- She faced questions about how she could carry out her duties after she started wearing a hijab.
- She was told to disclose her planned activities in the Muslim community, such as when she attended mosque.
- A supervisor stated that U.S. President Barack Obama was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A third complainant, who is described as Muslim of Turkish descent, with 22 years at CSIS, claims:
- A manager told him to “complain to Allah.”
- A poster was displayed in the office that referenced Allah and showed the twin towers burning on 9/11.
- He was pushed to drink alcohol, even though he does not drink for religious reasons.
- He heard a supervisor say she was rejecting job candidates with Muslim-sounding names.
A Moroccan-born analyst with 12 years alleges:
- He was accused of being a Moroccan spy.
- A colleague called Muslims “bloodthirsty murderers” and “terrorists.”
- A colleague referred to Arab Muslims as “sand monkeys.”
The fifth complainant, a black woman who has been at CSIS 16 years, alleges that she regularly endured “snide remarks that she was only promoted because she is a black woman” and also faced verbal abuse.
Among the damages, the five employees allege mistreatment from management and some say that they missed promotions, lost income and endured medical problems — including anxiety, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — as a result of the alleged workplace culture.
The document states that although “not all members of CSIS management openly behave in this fashion, management has been generally unwilling or unable to take steps to protect the employees or stop the harassment.”
“Those that do not participate tend to look the other way,” the statement goes on. “Attempts to raise concerns or seek corrective action have been met with derision, threats of reprisals and further harm.”
At one point, an internal harassment investigation sought comments from anonymous employees. One employee stated, according to the document, that “the public would be shocked about this if they only knew; we keep our own secrets.”
With files from CTV’s Omar Sachedina