Hired and un-hired city CAO files civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court

The man who was hired and then un-hired for a vacant CAO position in Williams Lake has filed a civil claim in the Supreme Court of B.C.

Don DeGagne, the man who was hired and then un-hired for a vacant CAO position in Williams Lake, filed a civil claim against the city in the Supreme Court of B.C. on May 8.

The city has 21 days of being served the claim to respond or make a counter claim.  City executive assistant Heather Sylvester respondend by e-mail Monday that she inquired and the city would not be making comments to media.

DeGagne’s file of claim states he was wrongfully dismissed when the city breached his employment contract and terminated him without cause, proper notice or pay in lieu of notice.

He has claimed damages for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract including aggravated, punitive and special damages.

On Feb. 5 at a city council meeting, Mayor Kerry Cook announced the city was “pleased” to have hired DeGagne as CAO and that he would start work on March 1.

Three weeks later on Feb. 28, however, the city sent out a press release stating that mayor and council had decided DeGagne would not be appointed as the CAO, and that the city would continue the search for a new one.

The press release noted: “DeGagne was not the best fit for the city’s needs at this time.”

In the court document, DeGagne outlined a series of events that led to his termination. He noted Cook phoned him to congratulate him in the middle of February, and said she was excited about his commencement of work as CAO.

“She further stated that she was sorry about bringing him into some troublesome issues, particularly the labour dispute with the union representing city employees and a court action between the city and the Cariboo Regional District.”

DeGagne followed up with an e-mail to the human resources manager expressing his desire to become more informed about the labour dispute. He also sent an e-mail to the corporate officer of the city requesting information on the court action.

On Feb. 26, DeGagne and his girlfriend moved to Williams Lake from Summerland. The next day, Feb. 27, the mayor requested a meeting with him,  gave him a termination letter and advised him the city was terminating his contract.

The letter stated: “your recent communication regarding the current labour dispute has rekindled reservations that members of council had at the time of offering you the CAO position. Council’s confidence that you will be able to exercise the sound judgement council is looking for in its CAO has been seriously shaken and caused it to reconsider its decision.”

He also alleged council did not allow him an opportunity to be heard or to respond to the news of his termination.

DeGagne did not respond to the Tribune’s request for comments.


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