Mayor Kerry Cook, along with two Williams Lake City Councillors, and three staff members are in Vancouver for the wrongful dismissal trial of DeGagne versus the City of Williams Lake today.
On February 6, 2013, the City of Williams Lake issued a formal media release advising that Donald DeGagne was the successful CAO candidate who would fill the vacant position left by the resignation of Brian Carruthers in September of 2012. The media release stated that DeGagne would be hired and would begin work on March 1, 2013. However, the day before Mr. DeGagne was supposed to take his office in City Hall, another media release was sent out by the City, stating DeGagne was not the best fit for the position of CAO, and would not be taking over the position at that time.
DeGagne filed a civil claim with the Supreme Court of British Columbia claiming general damages for wrongful dismissal and breach of Contract.
Mr. DeGagne asserts he was not allowed an opportunity to be heard or to respond to the news of his termination, and that the City released the information without his permission.
In court documents filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia by labour and employment lawyers Coutts Pulver LLP, the Plaintiff (DeGagne) claims a $7,500 moving allowance was arranged to accommodate his move from Summerland, BC. Additionally, the civil claim alleges his starting salary was to be $130,500 per year, including two increases in the following 12 months. The contract allegedly included four weeks of vacation, paid time in lieu of overtime, pension contributions and a vehicle allowance.
The civil claim, which was amended on May 8, 2014, outlines significant alleged mental stress and anxiety suffered by Mr. DeGagne as a result of his dismissal. "As a further result of the wrongful dismissal, breach of Contract, the Plaintiff has experienced damage to his reputation which has severely affected his employability (SIC) in a field where there are already limited opportunities."
The trial was scheduled to begin on November 25, 2013, and was expected to last four days, but was postponed due to the unavailability of one of the City of Williams Lake's witnesses.
Got News Network Inc.'s requests for clarification or additional information from the City of Williams Lake have been deferred. According to the City's Communications Coordinator today, the City of Williams Lake's official position on this matter has been, and remains, "That matters concerning the CAO are a personnel issue, and as such, the City won't comment on it."