Vernon loses appeal against reinstated fire captain previously fired for sexual activity in chief's office | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon loses appeal against reinstated fire captain previously fired for sexual activity in chief's office

Vernon Fire and rescue Services
October 03, 2019 - 11:30 AM

VERNON - A Vernon fire captain who was reinstated after he was fired for having a "brief episode of consensual sexual activity" with a colleague in the fire chief's office, will be able to keep his job after a labour relations board dismissed the City's appeal that he should not have been reinstated.

In the B.C. Labour Relations Board decision, Sept. 27, vice-chair Karen Jewell dismisses the City's appeal against the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local No. 1517, that Capt. Brent Bond should not have been reinstated after a Labour Board hearing in March found that the City should not have fired him.

Capt. Bond was fired in March 2018 the day after a "brief episode of consensual sexual activity" between him and a female colleague that was caught by a hidden surveillance camera in the fire chief's office.

The City had argued the original hearing did not take into consideration the prior behaviour of the fire captain and his dishonesty following the event.

The City also argued it was denied a fair hearing as the labour relations board declined to make a "credibility determination" between the two fired workers and a witness.

However, the Labour Relations Board vice-chair disagreed saying the City had failed to establish it was denied a fair hearing.

According to the decision, the City argued the board had failed to consider the impact of reinstating Capt. Bond after his "dishonesty," his past record, and his "dishonesty under oath at arbitration, including a failure to accept full responsibility." 

The City argued the board had failed to explain how, if Bond returned to work the relationship between him and the fire department could be restored.

In the decision, the City argued that the labour board agreed Bond's behaviour following the incident was "evasive and not forthright" and showed "deflection, deception and dishonesty" worthy of discipline.

The City also argued it was not a fair hearing as Bond and his colleague had said the incident was a "one-off," but the City had proof they had not been honest about the extent of their relationship at work. During the hearing the board refused to look at this evidence, saying Bond and his colleague's behaviour prior to the incident was not relevant.

The City says this was a mistake by the board, and in doing so failed to look at evidence that suggested the Bond and the dispatcher "were dishonest under oath."

The City also argues the Labour Board set the "bar too low" and it was "entitled to expect more from the Captain in his leadership role."

The City says the board failed to consider how trust could be restored once Bond was rehired, which was inconsistent with labour code rules.

However, Jewell dismissed this saying she was not persuaded reinstating Bond was inconsistent with labour code rules.

In March this year, the Vernon Professional Firefighters' Association IAFF LOCAL 1517 union argued neither Bond or the dispatcher should have been fired and instead received a four-month suspension, with Bond also receiving a temporary demotion.

While Bond got his $137,000 job back, as the dispatcher's position had since been outsourced she was not rehired by Vernon Fire Rescue Service.

Lengthy court documents from the hearing show a fire department amid a "turbulent period" with allegations of bullying, harassment and intimidation, with an independent review leading to further investigation.

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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