Arbitration Board rules termination excessive, firefighter reinstated, but city considers further appeal.
The City of Vernon is adamant that terminating a firefighter for engaging in sexual activity with a subordinate last year was the right decision.
A firefighter and a fire service employee were terminated in March after being caught by a hidden camera having sex in current fire chief David Lind’s office.
The pair were on duty in the fire hall at the time of the incident, according to the city.
The union fought the termination, arguing there should be no discipline because the privacy of these individuals was violated when they were caught having sex in the fire chief’s office with the door wide open.
Ultimately, two out of three members on the Arbitration Board ruled that while “harsh discipline” was warranted, termination was excessive. The other member of board concluded that termination was the only rational outcome.
The city appealed the decision to the Labour Relations Board, however the board cannot overturn an arbitration decision simply because they disagree with the outcome. The Labour Relations Board can only overturn an arbitration decision if one side was denied a fair hearing or if the arbitrator did something inconsistent with the Labour Code.
The Labour Board concluded that while they may have come to a different conclusion than the Arbitration Board, that was not a basis for them to overturn the decision. They concluded that since the Arbitration Board went through the proper process, the Labour Board had no jurisdiction to interfere with the outcome, even if they disagreed with it.
“The city continues to believe our decision was the correct one,” stated a press release from the city on Monday.
“Having sex in an open manner, with a subordinate, while on duty in the fire hall must be grounds for termination. We cannot tolerate a workplace environment where this type of activity is carried on by a commanding officer.
“While we are disappointed the Labour Board did not overturn the arbitration decision, they certainly did not endorse the outcome. The Labour Board was clearly 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.”