City of Vernon, firefighters dispute surveillance camera

City of Vernon, firefighters dispute surveillance camera

Hidden camera in chief’s Vernon office captures sexual romp between two employees

A hidden surveillance video that captured something rather unexpected is the focus of a dispute between the Vernon Professional Firefighters Association IAAF Local 1517 and the City of Vernon.

One firefighter and a fire service employee were terminated in March after being caught by the hidden camera having sex in now fire chief David Lind’s office (Lind was interim chief at the time of the incident).

The camera had been installed four months prior to monitor whether someone was going through Lind’s locked file cabinet.

An arbitration panel ruled 2-1 in favour of the city being able to use the video footage of the dalliance to support their reason for termination.

The union filed grievances on behalf of the terminated employees, acknowledging what’s on the video as a “deeply personal and compromising interaction,” but, at the same time, “the union does not agree to stipulate for this arbitration to an admission to this activity.” It asserts the employer must discharge its legal onus to prove each dismissed employee engaged in activity justifying disciplinary dismissal without adducing into evidence privacy invading covert surveillance video camera footage.

“If the employer cannot discharge its onus without reliance on this video footage, its predicament is a consequence of its flawed investigatory approach from which neither the union nor the board has any responsibility to rescue the employer.”

The city has said if the video is ruled inadmissible, it “will allow the employees to go unsanctioned for egregious workplace misconduct.”

RELATED: Vernon firefighters, city reach collective deal

The panel is chaired by lawyer James E. Dorsey and includes retired Vancouver Fire Rescue Services Chief John McKearney, and IAAF vice-president Emeritus Lorne West. Dorsey and McKearney voted to dismiss the union’s application to exclude the video footage from the admissible evidence over the firefighters’ terminations.

“…This surreptitious surveillance as conducted by the employer was both a necessary collection of employee personal information for an investigation of employee misconduct and to manage the employment relationship and a reasonable exercise of management authority in all of the circumstances,” wrote Dorsey and McKearney in the decision.

“It was narrowly focused surveillance based on a genuinely held suspicion with minimal invasion of employee privacy.”

RELATED: Kelowna Fire Department to handle Vernon, OKIB dispatch

West respected his colleagues’ opinions, but disagreed, and said Lind’s testimony during the hearing was not believable.

“That includes whether or not the file cabinet in question was locked or unlocked,” said West, adding he felt Lind’s testimony was ‘scripted and rehearsed.’

“To be frank, the employer appears to believe they had found grounds to remove an employee, who was a strong leader within the union membership,” said West. “Was it coincidental or was the employer looking for this and then built the back story to fulfil that need?”

The City of Vernon does not comment on personnel matters, and will not provide additional information in this matter as it remains before an arbitration panel.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Hazardous materials response unit setting up on scene. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UPDATE: Hazmat teams called to UBCO for envelope filled with ‘suspicious substance’

Crews are securing and isolating the area in which the envelope was opened in the lobby of an apartment building

The Allan Brooks Nature Centre is kicking off a Light The Night fundraising campaign online to help with Christmas shopping for the public and fundraising for the popular Vernon attraction. (ABNC Photo)
Light the Night campaign boosts Vernon nature centre

Allan Brooks Society hosting online auction of 12 items; donations can also be made to help centre

Repairs to the Duteau Creek UV Disinfection Facility are complete, and the facility will begin treating water from the Duteau Creek source with UV disinfection today. The Kalamalka Lake water source for the Greater Vernon Water system has also been turned back on after algae levels dropped. (Morning Star - file photo)
Greater Vernon water disinfection back on tap

Kalamalka Lake algae levels drop; UV disinfection repairs at Duteau Creek plant fixed

A semi-truck blocks a single lane of traffic on Highway 6 near Kalamalka Lake Road in Vernon Thursday, Nov. 26. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Semi-truck blocking single lane near Vernon

Incident near Kalamalka Lake Road delays westbound traffic

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Darrell RIchards and his Harley Davidson Streetglide in front of Discovery House in Penticton on Nov. 5. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Okanagan biker still in running for custom chopper competition

Darrell Richards is sitting in first in the final round of the group stage

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

REN Energy will source waste wood from ATCO Wood Products and other forest companies, as well as brush piles, to create Renewable Natural Gas in a new facility planned for Park Siding just outside of Fruitvale. Townsman file photo.
Kelowna, Calgary energy companies design renewable gas plant near Trail

The new project is in Fruitvale, B.C. and builds on Canada’s green energy economy

Penticton's Courthouse. (File)
Six months jail for robbing Okanagan cannabis dispensary

After time served, the 29-year-old has another month in prison

Most Read