City files appeal in Vernon firehall hanky-panky case
An order to reinstate one of two fired employees for engaging in sexual activity while at work will be appealed, the City of Vernon announced on Thursday.
Last year, two city employees – a firefighter captain and a dispatcher – were caught on video engaging in a “brief episode of consensual activity” while at work. The pair were fired in late March of 2018, but their dismissals were grieved.
The union grievance proved to be successful, with a B.C. Labour Arbitration panel ruling last month that the two had to be re-hired. The panel ruled that the “dismissal was an excessive disciplinary response in all of the circumstances.”
The city had 15 days to appeal the decision, but the labour board granted an extension until April 4 to file an appeal. Shortly before 4:30 p.m., the city announced by email that it had filed an appeal.
“The city has filed an application to the Labour Relations Board appealing the order of the Arbitration Board to reinstate [the firefighter] to the workplace,” said the email.
“The city has also filed an application to stay the implementation of the order pending the labour board’s review.”
Global News is choosing not to identify the two employees.
In its March ruling, the labour board described the sexual activity as “intimate, playful physical contact” and said the two were “joyful and clearly having fun, but watchful, separately glancing out the office door.”
A tan line was revealed and exploration was commenced but abruptly stopped. They kissed again in an affectionate embrace for 10 seconds, then they stood apart and both left the office. The ruling said “the entire elapsed time was 88 seconds.”
Shortly after the Labour Relations Board decision, City of Vernon chief administrative officer Will Pearce said he was of the opinion that the arbitration board erred in its decision and that the city was exploring a range of options.
According to the labour board decision, the fire captain was to be re-hired with no loss of seniority or benefits. He was also to undergo a temporary disciplinary demotion of rank until Feb. 1, 2022.
READ MORE: Vernon outsourcing fire dispatch to Kelowna
Regarding the dispatcher, the labour board decision noted that her job was slated to be contracted out in October and that she was not be compensated for lost wages.
The city’s email on Thursday mentioned nothing about the dispatcher.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.