Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mounties letting female officers wear the pants

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VANCOUVER -- Amid allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment, the RCMP brass have recently made at least one change that will please female officers -- the force is now allowing women to wear pants and boots with all their formal uniforms.

It's been almost a decade since an unnamed female officer filed a grievance because she was denied boots and pants to wear with her formal Walking Out Order, instead of a long blue skirt and black leather pumps.

Her January 2003 complaint was twice denied on the grounds she was aware on graduation from RCMP training of the uniform requirements and should have filed her grievance then.

The External Review Committee disagreed with that, but found her case still did not constitute discrimination under the law. However, the report signed by committee chairwoman Catherine Ebbs said the grievance raised a reasonable question.

"Why does the force not permit female members to choose between the male and female Walking Out Orders?" she asked in the report dated Feb. 9, 2011.

The commissioner has not made a decision in the case, and while the official uniform regulations still require a skirt for female officers in Walking Out Order, a spokesman for the force said women can now get pants and boots on request.

Staff-Sgt. Maj. Sylvain L'heureux said among the problems was that the pants and boots are expensive, difficult to source and only available in men's sizes.

But the grievance prompted a discussion, and the decision was taken recently that women who request the pants should be accommodated. He said it will take some time for the adjustment to be incorporated into the dress manual.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2012 A17

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