Vernon firefighter’s job safe after city loses appeal

Labour relations board rules in favour of firefighters union, says city did not prove its case

A Vernon Fire Rescue Services member will keep his job after having had sex with a colleague in the fire chief’s office.

The B.C. Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) has dismissed the city’s appeal of a decision to reinstate the firefighter.

The two city employees, a fire captain and a dispatcher, were fired in March 2018 for having sex in the workplace while on duty, and the “consensual sexual activity” had been caught on a surveillance camera in the chief’s office that had been put there on another matter.

READ MORE: City of Vernon appeals fire captain reinstatement order

A year later, the city was ordered to reinstate the pair by a majority of a three-member arbitration board that had been put together to hear a grievance filed by the B.C. International Association of Firefighters.

READ MORE: City of Vernon, firefighters dispute surveillance camera

The board panel suggested the pair’s firing was excessive and instead proposed a four-month suspension as well as a temporary demotion for the captain. Both were reinstated.

The city did not seek a review of the determination of the award that the dispatcher should be reinstated with a disciplinary suspension, but wanted to set aside the determination the captain be reinstated with a disciplinary suspension, saying such a move is “inconsistent with the principles expressed in or implied in the (Labour Relations) Code in failing to uphold termination.”

The city also said it was denied a fair hearing.

The B.C. Labour Relations Board disagreed.

“I find the employer has not established a basis to set aside the award under Section 99 (Labour Relations Code),” wrote BCLRB vice-chair Karen Jewell in her seven-page decision. “I am not persuaded the award is inconsistent with Code principles or that the employer was denied a fair hearing.”

The firefighters’ union acknowledged that the city had “just and reasonable cause” to discipline the pair, but said “dismissal was excessive” and proposed a four-month disciplinary suspension for both with additional consequences for the captain, who was reinstated on terms that included a five-month disciplinary suspension with no compensation for lost wages, but no loss of seniority or benefits. The terms also included a three-year temporary disciplinary demotion to the rank of firefighter.

The city appealed, arguing that the panel board “did not provide any reasoned basis for concluding the employment relationship could be restored in light of the nature of the misconduct, dishonesty at an investigation meeting (both parties were “evasive and not forthright in their interview the next day over the sexual encounter”), the past record (captain had previously served a recent three-day suspension for engaging in bullying and harassment of a fellow firefighter) and dishonesty under oath at arbitration, including a failure to accept full responsibility.

The full BCLRB decision can be found here.


@VernonNews
roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Workshops, networking events designed for Shuswap women entrepreneurs on the way

Tsuts’weye project holds successful roundtables where valuable information gathered

‘She was awesome’: Malakwa baker leaves U.S. holiday show

‘There are Christmas miracles, look at me’

Salmon Arm ranked 7th best place to work in B.C. for 2020

Categories reflecting quality of life influence ranking

School District #83 board approves pay increase for trustees

Decision reflects policy, changes in BC Consumer Price Index

South Shuswap health clinic welcomes first doctor

Dr. Jack Beech to do Saturday walk-in clinic at Copper Island Health and Wellness Centre.

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

Weak link in Sagmoen trial, defence says

Counsel questions whether search warrant police executed was obtained on reasonable grounds

Salmon Arm Work BC office hosts grand reopening

Services available at the office will remain similar to past offerings

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

North Okanagan MP says throne speech lacked specifics

‘Trudeau government presented a vague agenda,’: MP Mel Arnold

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

Independent Investigations Office seeks witnesses following arrest in Penticton

The male resisted arrest at approximately 8:40 a.m. and sustained a head injury

Most Read