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

Vernon’s Jim Cotter (left) and Steve Laycock of Saskatoon will try to rebound Sunday, March 7, at the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship in Calgary after an opening-game defeat. (Black Press file photo)
Team B.C. bows in Brier opener

New Brunswick uses hammer to score two in 10th end for 7-5 win over Steve Laycock

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Coldstream owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Vernon residents can breathe a little easier now that a dust advisory has ended in the area. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Dust advisory lifted in Vernon

Changing meteorological conditions have improved regional air quality

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Isaac Gilbert is running for council in the by-election for Jake Kimberley’s vacated seat. (Submitted)
First candidate for Penticton council by-election makes himself known

Isaac Gilbert is making a second run at council after receiving 19.63 per cent of the vote in 2018

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read