Home Featured City of Leduc reaches settlement in class-action over workplace sexual harassment, assault

City of Leduc reaches settlement in class-action over workplace sexual harassment, assault

by HR Law Canada

The City of Leduc in Alberta has reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit over workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The Calgary-based law firm of Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer LLP (BD&P) announced the settlement between the city and lead plaintiffs Mindy Smith and Christy Steele. The suit was filed in February 2022.

BD&P called it the “first settlement of a class action involving sexual misconduct and sexual assault in a fire department or municipality in Canada.”

It also said the individual compensation in the settlement exceeded the “most notable workplace harassment class action settlements to date,” including sexual misconduct and harassment within the RCMP and the Department of National Defence.

“When we set out to bring to light the discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault happening at Leduc, it was so it would stop and those who are responsible for the years of abuse we faced would be held accountable,” said Steele.

“There remains a lot of work to do, but I am relieved that Leduc has finally acknowledged the harm that women suffered in a workplace where they were preyed upon and sexual assault was acceptable and without consequence.” 

The city’s reaction

Derek Prohar, city manager for the City of Leduc, called the settlement a “significant moment in the history of our city.”

“Regretfully, we cannot undo the harm of the sexual misconduct that was experienced, but we are committed to learning from the past to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future,” said Prohar. “Healing will take time. Rebuilding trust will take time. We will do the necessary work and engage in ongoing conversations to ensure that our city is a place where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued.”


The class action alleged that the city failed to prevent system sexual misconduct and sexual assault. Further, it said Leduc “discouraged the reporting of sexual misconduct and sexual assault and retaliated against women that did.”

It also alleged that the city protected individuals who committed sexual misconduct and assault and that it caused serious harm to women working at the city.

Compensation from $10,000 to $285,000

Each member of the class is eligible for financial compensation ranging from $10,000 to $285,000, according to BD&P. Any woman who worked at the City of Leduc over the past 20 years is eligible to participate in the class action, it said.

It also noted that there is a confidential, non-adversarial and non-confrontational claims process that will provide a safe way for victims to come forward.

And there’s more than cash on the table. The settlement includes a public apology from the mayor and a requirement that the city take whatever steps necessary to ensure no retaliation occurs against women who participate in the class action or make a claim.

“When this case came to us we knew that we had a responsibility to do whatever we could to help these women,” said Robert Martz, BD&P’s lead lawyer.

“We took on this case despite its legal challenges because what we saw at Leduc cannot be tolerated and those who discriminate, sexually harass, and sexually assault women need to be held accountable. We also believe that the legal system needs to evolve to hold employers accountable who tolerate this type of systemic sexual misconduct, and to encourage women who suffer this type of workplace abuse to come forward.” 

A hearing for the Court of King’s Bench to approve the settlement is scheduled for July 4, 2023, in Edmonton.

The full settlement can be viewed at https://leducclassaction.com/

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