It’s been a long and difficult battle for justice for former HRM firefighter Liane Tessier, but this coming Monday the City of Halifax and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency will finally issue an apology. As well, Tessier will receive a settlement of an undisclosed amount.
Tessier was an ambitious volunteer firefighter who met nothing but pushback and retaliation from the station chief on down at the male-dominated Herring Cove fire station. She was ignored by Halifax Fire and the municipality. When Tessier used formal channels to raise the alarm about the harassment and unfair treatment nobody listened.
She even had to take the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission to court, who after five years and seven different bungling investigators, was forced to reconsider her case in a scathing decision by a Justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
To accept HRM’s offer to settle and apologize wasn’t an easy decision for Tessier, who hoped that the ten-day human rights tribunal scheduled for October would expose the many culprits at HRM and the Fire Department who made her life hell for all these years.
“I want the truth out there,” Tessier tells the Nova Scotia Advocate. “It’s complicated what happened to me, and it is necessary that people know the truth. It was awful what they did to me, and`all the while these guys were protected and promoted, while I was forced to leave because I spoke out.”
She wants this not for personal gratification, but because she believes her case is far from unique, and hopes that exposing the patterns of misogyny she encountered in her workplace will encourage other victims to come forward.
Now that the public tribunal is off the table, Tessier wants people to read her blog, where she has documented her case, clearly, naming names and in all its ghastly detail.
“The one thing that is hurting me in the pit of my stomach is that people don’t know what they did to me. This is from the bottom to the top, the top brass, they were all in on it. There was nobody to turn to, Human Resources was tainted. Nobody was listening, nobody cared, and this is what happens to women, this is the structure of misogyny,” Tessier says.
“That’s why I called my story Layers of abuse, it’s not just the men, it’s the employer, and the Human Resource department, and the guy of the Employment Assistance Program (EAP),” Tessier says. In one section of Tessier’s post she alleges that the assigned EAP staff person shared malicious gossip with her therapist and how a subsequent investigation found that this EAP person was just trying to help.”
This piece was first published on the Nova Scotia Advocate.