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City of Vernon loses appeal of fired, then rehired fire captain in sexual activity case

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The City of Vernon has lost its case to overturn the rehiring of a firefighter who was fired in 2018 following a brief episode of firehall sexual activity with a subordinate.

On Monday, the city announced that the B.C. Supreme Court dismissed its judicial review application.

The episode was caught on surveillance video, with the city firing the department captain in March 2018. However, the firing was appealed, with the Labour Relations Board siding with the B.C. International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).

In its 2019 ruling, the labour board described the sexual activity — which lasted 88 seconds — as “intimate, playful physical contact” and said the two were “joyful and clearly having fun, but watchful, separately glancing out the office door.”

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The city was hoping to overturn the Labour Relations Board ruling, which said the firing of the captain and the dispatcher was excessive.

“While the city was aware of the hurdle it was facing, it is disappointed in the court’s decision,” city staff wrote in a release.

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The captain was re-instated in March 2019 with no loss of seniority or benefits, but was to undergo a temporary disciplinary demotion of rank until Feb. 1, 2022.

The dispatcher was to be reinstated but was slated to lose her job because the position was to be eventually contracted out.

The city remains of the view that termination is the appropriate outcome for egregious misconduct of this nature, particularly in circumstances where the trust necessary in the employment relationship had been lost.

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“The city will continue to set high standards of service, ethics, integrity and honesty for its employees. I believe our taxpayers would expect nothing less,” said Will Pearce, City of Vernon’s chief administrative officer.

“The conduct of these two individuals should not detract from the professionalism and integrity of the many proud employees of the city.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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