Court dates set for Vanderhoof vs. former staff dispute

A disagreement between the District of Vanderhoof and a former staff member will be heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal this June.

A disagreement between the District of Vanderhoof and a former staff member will be heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal this June.

In her wrongful dismissal suit filed March 25 this year and her complaint filed to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, the district’s former economic development officer Erin Siemens argues that she was suddenly dismissed for her perceived political beliefs, rather than simply due to the closure of her department as she was told.

On Nov. 13, the tribunal denied the district’s application to dismiss the case, as the district had not submitted evidence that disproves the allegations, states the tribunal in its decision.

According to the HRT’s hearing schedule posted online, the case will be heard over 10 days from June 20 to 24, June 28 to 30, and July 4 to 5; hearing location has yet to be determined.

According to the tribunal, the district argues a legitimate business or reorganization decision for Siemens’s dismissal, but the mayor and its councillors did not provide a document trail for the tribunal “to clearly conclude when the District’s restructuring strategy was planned or implemented.”

The district also “did not file any evidence or affidavits from the District’s [former] CAO denying his conversations with Ms. Siemens,” the tribunal states in its decision.

During her termination meeting, the district’s former CAO Evan Parliament allegedly alluded to Siemens that the reason lies in her friendship with mayoral candidate Jessi Wilson, who ran unsuccessfully against incumbent mayor Gerry Thiessen in the 2014 civil election.

As the civil case remains before court, Siemens is claiming general and punitive damages for her alleged wrongful dismissal, interest, costs, and other relief as court deems just.