Vernon firefighter’s job safe after city loses appeal

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.

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

Just Posted

The City of Vernon is encouraging its residents to participate in the Vernon Tree Program for Earth Day Thursday, April 22. (File photo)
Vernon Tree Program participation encouraged for Earth Day

The tree program provides information about the benefits of planting shade trees, as well as resources

The GVMA’s virtual program, ECO: Ecological Change in the Okanagan includes the perspective of Justen Peters, K’nmaĺka? Sənqâĺtən Indigenous Garden tour leader, pictured here with Laisha Rosnau, GVMA Program Coordinator. (Silmara Emde photo)
Earth Day expo explores North Okanagan landscapes

Museum teams up with Syilx youth leader for virtual experience

Kelowna’s main drag, Bernard Avenue, was closed to vehicle traffic on June 29, 2020, allowing businesses — and pedestrians — to expand into the street. The closure lasted two months. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Vernon eyes closing Main Street to bolster business recovery

City staff to prepare report ahead of May 10 meeting of council regarding pilot project

The pool at Easter Seals Camp Winfield will be filled once again with excited campers as the fun moves to day camps this summer. (Photo submitted)
Camp Winfield to open for day campers

Return to popular facility to happen in July after being closed in 2020 due to COVID

Jessica Lynn Pihl
Woman believed to be in Vernon wanted by police

RCMP seek public’s help locating 37-year-old

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
‘I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident wants the Columbia River better protected

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

The City of Penticton is looking into the possibility of licensing certain public spaces to permit alcohol consumption during set hours. The city could see legal public drinking as early as June 5, 2020. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Booze on the beach set to make a comeback in Penticton for summer 2021

Penticton council gave the first three readings to bring back limited public drinking

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Katerina Bakalos of Summerland will release her first single on May 1. The music label is LMS Entertainment from Kelowna. (Contributed)
Summerland singer to release single under Kelowna-based label

Katerina Bakalos has performed a rock rendition of I Think We’re Alone Now

Most Read