Kamloops swim coach suing club after 30 years of service | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops swim coach suing club after 30 years of service

Brad Dalke receiving the Swim BC 2021 Club of the Year award, last year.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Brad Dalke

A veteran Kamloops swimming coach, who spent almost 30 years at the Kamloops Classic Swimming club, is suing the club following what he says was his constructive dismissal.

Head coach Brad Dalke filed a case in BC Supreme Court against the Kamloops Aquatic Club, more commonly known as the Kamloops Classic Swimming, and six of its board members.

"It's my passion, it's my life, it's extremely disappointing for your employer to do this to you," Dalke told iNFOnews.ca. "It's hurtful, I've put my life and soul into this thing."

Dalke had been with the club since 1994 and became head coach in 2003, a position that paid him in excess of $105,000 a year.

Over the decades, he's had plenty of success with junior swimmers and just this year sent a swimmer to the World Junior National Team.

However, Dalke said the atmosphere began to turn sour earlier this year.

"The current situation facing the Club is that the environment has become toxic with an executive committee imposing the will of the board in an inappropriate manner. The use of complaints and negativity have created a toxic workplace and environment. The lack of appropriate governance is glaringly displayed in the failure of the Board to elect a Board which complies with the rules of governance," the court documents said.

The suit names Ashleigh Canaday, Lisa Lopez, Jordan Friar, Brad Angove, Johnny Crichton and Raimey Olthuis as the board members.

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The lawsuit accuses the board of wanting to remove Dalke "through any means necessary" including the "intentional infliction of stress, anxiety and toxicity."

While Dalke filed his suit against the club two days ago, it appears they may not have been served the court documents yet.

"As far as we are aware we are not being sued," Kamloops Aquatics Club president Lisa Lopez told iNFOnews.ca in an emailed statement.

The board also appear to deny the allegations against them.

"Brad Dalke unexpectedly stepped away from his coaching duties and we would welcome him back to continue those duties," the statement read.

In contrast, the Notice of Claim read: "The members of the Executive and the Board have exhibited a calculated disregard for the employment relationship in an attempt to create some contrived form of cause for dismissal and/or create a toxic environment in order for Brad to leave his employment."

The court document said Dalke had been the subject of "unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations of improper conduct."

Dalke wouldn't go into details with iNFOnews.ca about these allegations, but said it was "parents trying to pave an easier situation for their kids rather than doing the work that needs to be done."

"We've had a sound record, an impeccable record when it comes to athlete health and wellness," he said. "I'm very proud of that and always have been."

Dalke grew up swimming in the 1970s and said his coaching methods are completely different to how he was coached when he was swimming.

He said the board's behaviour towards him is the complete opposite of the new safe sport principles that address coaches being tough or abusive to kids.

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The final straw came when he obtained documents from a board meeting.

The court documents said the board began discussing the "demise" of Dalke without him knowing in October 2022, just months after he'd signed a new two-year contract.

"Calculate the Careful removal of the head coach (Brad)," is one of the notes listed in the Notice of Claim.

Other bullet points include: "Put everything back on Brad until he leaves on his own; A role is found for parents to become empowered that they do not need to accept Brad and things the way they are; A plan to serve notice of dismissal as soon as possible as (a) protective mechanism, and/or enact progressive discipline under normal contract rules for dismissal."

The court documents accused the board of "clearly and unequivocally" calculating to terminate Dalke's job.

"The malicious intent of the board is apparent, and the toxic work environment has become intolerable for Brad," the court document read.

"The (board) created a hostile and intolerable work environment calculated to dismiss(Dalke) and/or force his resignation thereby causing (him) to be constructive dismissal. The constructive dismissal resulted in the sudden termination of (his) employment without cause and without notice."

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Dalke said in May he contacted a lawyer who wrote to the board, but following that his employment ended.

The suit claims undisclosed damages.

Neither the club nor the board members have yet to file a defence. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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