Two employees launch lawsuit against Ontario government over alleged racism

Ontario women launch lawsuit against provincial government, unions alleging systemic racism
Speaking to reporters Thursday morning in Toronto alongside noted columnist Desmond Cole, Jean-Marie Dixon and Hentrose Nelson discussed the lawsuit filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice alleging a pattern of systemic racism during their time as Ontario Public Service employees.

TORONTO – Two Ontario public service employees have launched a lawsuit against the provincial government and the unions that represent them, alleging they’ve been subjected to systemic racism for years.

Jean-Marie Dixon and Hentrose Nelson claim they experienced prolonged anti-black racism that led to harassment and mistreatment over their careers in the Ontario Public Service.

They allege such mistreatment took the form of aggression from colleagues, co-ordinated attempts at intimidation, being mistaken for janitorial staff and demotion from long-held positions.

READ MORE: Ontario to hold public meetings on fighting ‘systemic racism’

The women also allege the unions they belong to failed to respond to their complaints and helped uphold a culture of systemic racism.

The $26-million lawsuit, which contains unproven allegations, calls for a number of actions, including a “truth and conciliation” commission for racialized employees of the Ontario Public Service and anti-racism training for all staff.

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The government and one of the unions named in the suit didn’t respond to request for comment, while another union – The Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario – said it couldn’t comment on individual cases but it had long advocated for an end to systemic discrimination within the public service.