A deal to be silent': Public servant paid to keep quiet about discrimination on the job
A Black federal public servant who launched a racial discrimination complaint against the Canadian government says she felt uncomfortable signing a gag order because she feared it could further entrench a culture of silence around racism within the bureaucracy.
"I was signing a deal to be silent about the discrimination I've been through," said the woman, whom CBC/Radio-Canada has agreed not to name because she fears losing her job. "Throughout my entire career, I noticed colleagues, mostly white colleagues, getting privileges that I didn't."
The woman said the federal government paid her several thousand dollars in exchange for withdrawing the racial discrimination complaint.
Radio-Canada obtained a copy of the legal document, which was initialled by both the employer and the woman's union. It contains a confidentiality clause preventing her from speaking out about the racism she says she experienced on the job.
"They're putting a price on it," she said. "It's completely inadequate, and those agreements are immoral and they need to stop."
CBC/Radio-Canada did not approach the woman's employer directly because it could risk identifying her.
The woman said the agreement did resolve her specific issue, which she chose not to disclose to Radio-Canada because she worries that, too, could identify her. However, she said the agreement did little to address the bigger problem of systemic racism within federal departments.
Around 800 current and former Black public servants have launched a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, alleging it has discriminated against Black employees for decades. It was filed with the Federal Court of Canada in December, but the government has yet to file a statement of defence.
The suit, which has not been certified, accuses the government of excluding Black employees from promotions.