Toronto cop files complaint over years-long ‘barrage of sexist and racist comments’

By WENDY GILLISCrime Reporter

Wed., Sept. 26, 2018

Repeated sexual advances from colleagues and superiors, prompting her to wear a fake engagement ring. Frequent remarks from fellow officers about the bodies of female cops and sexual assault victims. Pornographic images posted in common areas in the police station, sometimes with racist comments scrawled overtop.

During her nearly decade-long stint as a Toronto police officer, Const. Firouzeh “Effy” Zarabi-Majd alleges she has endured “demeaning, sexist, racist and Islamophobic comments” and regular sexual harassment — discrimination that’s enabled by a “culture in which misogyny and racism are normalized,” she claims.

Zarabi-Majd’s allegations are detailed in a claim filed with Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal last week, in which the 37-year-old Iranian-Canadian alleges workplace discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin and more during her time at 51 Division, a busy downtown detachment.

In one instance, she alleges she was sexually assaulted by a male superior she trusted. Repeatedly, she says she was denied opportunities to advance due to discriminatory promotions favouring white, male officers. All the while, she’s felt she’s had nowhere to turn for help. 

Her claim is the second in less than a year in which a female Toronto police officer alleges her workplace is “poisonous” for women, where complaining risks professional consequences including threats to on-the-job safety. Another sexual harassment complaint by Const. Heather McWilliam, filed in 2014, is currently before the human rights tribunal. 

“What I experienced at 51 Division is a reflection of a deep, systemic culture of racism and sexism,” writes Zarabi-Majd. “My story is only one among many stories of women officers” in the Toronto Police Service.