Former Penticton Indian Band administrator suing for wrongful dismissal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Former Penticton Indian Band administrator suing for wrongful dismissal

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PENTICTON - A former Penticton Indian Band administrator has filed a civil claim against the band following a short-lived tenure as the Chief Administrative Officer.

Civil court documents, filed June 21 in Kelowna court, indicate Brent Ryan-Lewis is suing the Penticton Indian Band for breach of contract and wrongful dismissal. He is seeking both aggravated and punitive damages.

According to the documents, Ryan-Lewis relocated his family from Manitoba to begin work as the band’s administrator after signing a written contract on Aug. 24, 2017.

The terms of the contract outlined his right to up to three months pay plus five days per year completed service if he was dismissed without cause, with implicit terms stating he would be given reasonable notice if he was being let go.

Ryan-Lewis began work on Sept. 18, but by November he realized his workload far exceeded that of his job description. He approached the band about to discuss terminating his contract, but the position was reviewed and a recommendation made to revise the job title and pay rate. Ryan-Lewis did not participate in the review.

The new contract was ready on March 20, 2018, and retroactive to Jan. 8.

His title was changed to Chief Administrative Officer with an annual salary of $169,399.67, three weeks vacation, a registered retirement plan, mobile phone allowance and benefits package.

Ryan-Lewis began raising questions in April about certain decisions being made by the chief and band council, and he was suddenly terminated on May 4, court documents say.

He claims he was given no reasonable notice of the firing, nor was he given an opportunity to appeal the decision, in which he further claims the band did not provide protection to him as a whistleblower for raising concerns about the activities of chief and council.

Ryan-Lewis is seeking punitive damages for not being allowed the chance to appeal, claiming he was fired after he started raising concerns about the financial management of the band in retaliation for bringing the matters to light.

The Penticton Indian Band has refused to comment on the case.

“As the matter is currently before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” Penticton Indian Band communications coordinator Dawn Russell said today, June 26.

None of the allegations made in the civil suit have been proven in court.

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