A former manager at the City of Nanaimo is suing for wrongful dismissal.
Brian Denbigh, former manager of traffic services, is seeking damages from the municipality with claims he was terminated without just cause or reasonable notice a month after he took on a new, temporary position.
The claims have not been proven in court but according to the court document filed by Denbigh’s legal counsel in B.C. Supreme Court in January, Denbigh made a verbal agreement to take on a five-month assignment for Charlotte Davis, manager of sanitation, recycling and public works administration, who was going on maternity leave. He was to cover both managerial roles until his former position was filled and at the end of the assignment in June 2016, he’d retire. He had been manager of the roads and traffic services department since 1987 and worked for the city since 1974.
The process to transition between roles required him to “retire” from his position as manager of traffic services and be “re-hired” by the city for the temporary assignment in sanitation, the claim shows.
It states Denbigh received one letter confirming his taking on aspects of the sanitation position in addition to being manager of traffic services, until Jan. 29, 2016, and another confirming his temporary full-time employment as manager of sanitation beginning Feb. 1 for up to five months and subject to budgetary limits, his performance and the duration of the maternity leave. Come early March, he was given a termination notice that took effect March 25 and the court document alleges it was for none of the reasons laid out in his offer letter, but “the result of a policy change by the city focused on training new employees and promoting from within as opposed to retaining employees nearing the end of their tenure or re-hiring retirees.”
Among what Denbigh is now seeking are damages for wrongful dismissal and aggravated and punitive damages relating to unfair conduct and breaching the implied duty of good faith in employment contracts. It’s also argued in his document Denbigh entered into a fixed-term contract and is entitled to the value remaining.
Neither John Van Horne, city director of human resources, nor Denbigh wanted to provide comments with the case before the courts. The city has been served and has 21 days to respond.