The City of Vernon has issued the following statement regarding the firings of two fire department employees in March after they were captured on video surveillance having sex in the fire chief’s office:
“A recent CBC News report indicated that the City is involved in an arbitration process with two former employees.
While the City’s policy is to not comment on personnel matters, it is important to clarify that the incident did not involve two firefighters, as reported. Rather, the incident occurred between a firefighter and another employee of the fire service.
Because this incident is before an arbitration panel, no additional information will be made available from the City at this time.” (End of city statement)
A surveillance camera is at the centre of a dispute involving the City of Vernon and the Vernon professional firefighters union.
An arbitration panel ruled last month the City could use video footage of two fire department employees caught having sex in the fire chief’s office, as evidence to support the two being fired back in March.
The union is trying to get the two people reinstated to their positions.
Fire chief David Lind set up the camera for surveillance purposes after finding his office cabinet unlocked, and only found out about the sexual incident in his office while reviewing the video the day after it took place.
“Their viewing was not to identify or watch the firefighter perform an assigned task but to look for someone else doing something else, like the firefighter who rummaged through documents on Interim Chief Lind’s desk,” wrote panel chair James Dorsey in his ruling. “When there was no footage of someone else doing something else the footage was immediately deleted with no record kept and, perhaps, with no recollection by Interim Chief Lind or Deputy Chief Hemstad who had been captured in the footage other than it was never a Captain.”
“The brief, fleeting loss of privacy by individual firefighters from December 8, 2017 to April 12, 2018 was at the lower end of any range of seriousness of invasion of privacy at work. The video footage was not a serious invasion of privacy for each firefighter,” concluded Dorsey.
A union nominee on the panel, Lorne West, questioned the number of people who viewed the video, or were told about it, with that list including the deputy chief, human resources officials, the manager of information services, the chief administrative officer and lawyers.
The director argued it was an invasion of privacy, and perhaps had other motives.
“It appears at worst, there was a concerted effort at character assignation of one individual, who coincidentally, was the last remaining person seen as part of the fire department leadership,” said West.