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The city of Vernon, B.C. was home to a sex scandal involving two of its fire rescue staff. The incident, occurring in March 2018, involved a firefighter, Capt. Brent Bond and dispatcher Cara-Leigh Manahan being caught by a hidden camera while engaging in sexual intercourse in fire chief David Lind’s office as reported by MSN. The camera was installed by Lind to attempt to catch employees suspected of going through his filing cabinet.
After the two were caught in the act, the city attempted to fire them only for the union to prevent the termination. The union argued that the two had their privacy violated and the pair should not be disciplined. When the case was brought to the Arbitration Board, two of the board’s three members voted that “harsh discipline” was necessary and that they should not be terminated.
In response, the city appealed the decision to the Labour Board who concluded, that while they may have decided on a different outcome, they refused to arbitrate the case. They reasoned that they can only overturn a decision if one member of the arbitration was denied a fair hearing or if the arbitration went against the Labour code. As this was not the case, the Labour Board refused to accept the city’s appeal to fire the employees.
As a result, Bond, a fire captain, rejoined the forces within 5 months of the decision with no loss of seniority and no compensation of lost pay. Manahan, who was allowed to rejoin the force in a similar deal declined, already having changed employers.
In a press statement from the city affirmed that they would continue to attempt to resolve the issue “While we are disappointed the Labour Board did not overturn the arbitration decision, they certainly did not endorse the outcome. The Labour Board was troubled by the reinstatement, as the City continues to be. As a result, the city is currently considering its options to further appeal the reinstatement decision.” In another statement, the city reaffirmed its stance “Having sex in an open manner, with a subordinate, while on duty in the fire hall, must be grounds for termination”. The city has not yet given up its attempts to have Bond terminated, despite the objections of the union and Arbitration Board.