Former fire chief sues City of Vernon after job loss

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Vernon’s former fire chief takes city to court
Watch: Vernon’s former fire chief is alleging the city mishandled his termination and his disability. – Feb 20, 2019

Vernon’s former fire chief has filed a lawsuit against the City alleging it terminated him without cause or notice and didn’t offer to accommodate his disability.

Keith Green filed the lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Thursday.

Green was relieved of his duties as fire chief last August.

Later that month, the City issued a media release naming a new fire chief and thanking Green “for his years of service to the Department and to the community.”

However, the lawsuit suggests Green’s departure from the City was not friendly.

The notice of civil claim said at the end of September 2016, Green “became disabled due to a work-related psychological disability” and stopped working.

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Two months later, the City hired David Lind to step in as interim fire chief.

According to Green’s claim, in the summer of 2018, almost two years after he originally left work due to his disability, Green started to work with WorkSafe BC on a plan to return to his job.

However, the lawsuit alleges the City “did not offer to accommodate [Green’s] disability and to cooperate with WorkSafe BC in an attempt at a gradual return to work.”

Instead, Green claims the City “wrongfully and without cause or prior notice” terminated him in August 2018.

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The lawsuit said the City argued their contract with Green had been frustrated because Green couldn’t go back to work full-time due to his disability.

According to the notice of civil claim, Green’s contract with the City said Vernon had to give him one year’s notice if it wanted to lay him off without cause.

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Otherwise, the lawsuit says, Green would be entitled to “compensation in the form of payment of salary and 12 per cent salary in lieu of benefits.”

Green is arguing he is now entitled to that compensation, as well as interest and court costs.

At the time he was terminated, Green had a salary of $136,000.

The lawsuit does not say whether Green was offered a severance from the City when he was terminated.

However, it does say that Green is receiving WCB benefits and is having that topped up by disability insurance from a private insurance provider.

The City and Green’s lawyer declined an interview request by Global News.

A City spokesperson said Vernon “does not comment on HR issues or ongoing legal matters” and had not been formally served with a copy of the claim.

Green’s lawyer said in an email that the former fire chief is “focusing on his recovery and not ready to comment publicly about his situation.”

Once it is served, the City of Vernon has 21 days to file a response with the court.

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None of the allegations contained in the lawsuit have been proven in court.

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