Vernon back in court over captain fired for engaging in sexual activity in chief's office | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon back in court over captain fired for engaging in sexual activity in chief's office

Fired in March 2018, Vernon Fire Service captain Brent Bond has won an appeal to get his job back but the City of Vernon didn't stop there.
Image Credit: Image Credit: BCFFA
December 12, 2020 - 2:31 PM

The City of Vernon has just wrapped up two days in B.C. Supreme Court fighting again against the reinstatement of a fire captain it fired after a hidden surveillance camera caught him and a female colleague in the fire chief's office engaged in a brief moment of "consensual sexual activity."

Both Vernon Fire Capt. Brent Bond and the female dispatcher were fired the day after the 88-second sexual tryst happened between them in March 2018, but Bond managed to get his job back, with conditions, after the B.C. Labour Relations Board ruled the City's action was unduly harsh and ordered that the captain be reinstated.

The Labour Board's decision appears to be a thorn in the side of the City which headed into B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Dec. 9, arguing it should not have been ordered to reinstate Bond and calling for a judicial review on the matter.

The litigation has also come at a cost and in February, the City confirmed it had spent $240,600 on legal fees in 2018 and 2019 relating to the case.

The City's move to take the case to the B.C. Supreme Court follows multiple failed appeals with the B.C. Labour Relations Board to have Bond removed from the fire department. The City argued that Bond’s behaviour was “deflective, deceptive, and dishonest” and it should not be forced to rehire the fire captain.

The City of Vernon initiated the case in Vernon against the Vernon Professional Firefighters' Association, I.A.F.F. Local 1517 and the B.C. Labour Relations Board petitioning the court to quash an earlier Labour Board decision to reinstate the fire captain.

The proceedings exposed a toxic workplace environment that dated back years.

On the morning of March 25, 2018 fire Capt. Bond and a female dispatcher were caught on a hidden surveillance camera in the chief's office. The camera was meant to catch Bond going through filing cabinets, papers and other materials belonging to the chief but it caught something else entirely. 

Fired in March 2018, Vernon Fire Service captain Brent Bond has won an appeal to get his job back but the City of Vernon didn't stop there.
Fired in March 2018, Vernon Fire Service captain Brent Bond has won an appeal to get his job back but the City of Vernon didn't stop there.
Image Credit: Image Credit: BCFFA

While previous court documents have referred to the incident as a "brief episode of consensual sexual activity," the newly filed court petition for the first time goes into intimate detail.

"(Bond) had invited (the dispatcher) into the Interim Fire Chief's office and initiated physical contact with her," the court documents say. "She briefly performed oral sex on him. At the time, the Fire Hall was staffed... the door was wide open."

An investigation took place the following day and both Bond and the dispatcher were found to have been dishonest in their interviews and immediately fired.

The Union fought the dismissals and the Board ordered the City to give Bond his $130,000 a year job back, with conditions that included a temporary five-month demotion. He started back with Vernon Fire Rescue in the spring of 2019.

While the dispatcher also won her case, her job had since been contracted out leaving her with no employment to return to.

READ MORE: Sexual activity at Vernon fire hall exposed 'toxic' workplace

Throughout the subsequent appeals from the City of Vernon, court documents revealed a fire department rife with distrust. The hidden surveillance camera had been placed in the Intern Fire Chief's office because he believed someone was stealing confidential documents.

Previous to the incident in 2015 the City paid for an independent review to be conducted which found problems with communication, training, career and volunteer firefighters relations as well as issues between union reps and management. Following the review, a retired Police Chief was brought in to investigate allegations of bullying, intimidation and harassment.

The court documents show Bond, who was a Union rep, had received previous disciplinary measures and that there was tension between him and the Vernon Fire Chief David Lind.

In the court documents, the City of Vernon alleges Bond's workplace misconduct was an "egregious breach of trust" and that he lied to management during its investigation into the events. The City says the Labour Board arbitrators should have considered Bond's "credibility and honesty" during the initial hearing.

The City says Bond and the dispatcher had been having an affair for roughly one year before, but they lied and said the incident was a "one-off."

The City wants the court to consider evidence from firefighter Dan Nadeau who testified about the relationship but had the evidence dismissed by the Labour Board.

The City argued the Labour Board's decision not to give any weight to this evidence means the Board failed to conduct a thorough assessment of Bond's credibility, which in turn denied it a fair hearing.

The Union dismissed that, and in an affidavit filed in court says Nadeau's evidence was "vague and speculative" and did not contradict any of the testimony.

The Union said the City's "ultimate aim" is to overturn Bond's reinstatement despite his "discipline-free reemployment."

"Prolonging the threat of dismissal on the basis of vague allegations that Mr. Bond cannot possibly be expected to respond to years later, raises the potential for unfairness and prejudice if the matter is remitted," the Union said in the court documents.

Following two days of evidence given at the hearing, the case was adjourned for the justice to make a decision on the matter sometime in the future.


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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