The District of West Kelowna is facing an expensive lawsuit as one of its former employees sues it for $152,000.
Former assistant fire chief Kerry Klonteig was dismissed in October 2013 for allegedly driving a district vehicle while prohibited under an administrative driving prohibition.
Klonteig's lawsuit claims the District of West Kelowna "failed to implement alternative disciplinary actions or any progressive discipline consistent with its treatment of other district employees in similar circumstances."
The 48 year old, who was earning more than $100,000 a year before he was fired, had previously spent 13 years as assistant fire chief for the City of Kelowna Fire Department. The lawsuit claims that he has not been able to find comparable employment.
“Mr. Klonteig continues to be hindered in his search for employment by reason of his specialized skills and dedication to two employers over 18 years,” states the lawsuit adding that there is limited availability at other fire departments in the region.
The suit claims the District did not provide him with any notice prior to his dismissal or any severance package in lieu. Klonteig is suing for $152,372 in general damages plus performance bonuses and benefits he would have earned during the reasonable notice period of the wrongful dismissal.
Klonteig claims the district breached his employment contract without appropriate notice of termination or adequate payment in lieu causing him to suffer damage, loss and expense.
A District spokesperson told West Kelowna News the organization would not be commenting while the issue was before the courts.
Further facts in the case will not be available until it is heard, but the B.C. Ministry of Labour stresses that the onus is on the employer to prove that just cause for termination exists.