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Two employees of the Vernon fire department will be reinstated a year after being fired amid an in-office sex scandal.
Last March, the fire captain and a dispatcher were dismissed after a surveillance camera caught the pair engaging in sexual relations while in the fire chief’s office.
The footage was reviewed and the two employees were fired, prompting a union grievance arguing that while discipline was reasonable, the firings were excessive.
On Tuesday, a B.C. Labour Arbitration panel ruled that the firings were, in fact, excessive and has ordered the City of Vernon to rehire the two employees.
The City of Vernon has since released a statement expressing their disappointment with the ruling.
“Our emergency personnel have a duty to serve our taxpayers and respond with all due diligence, not to be distracted from their duties by engaging in sexual relations in the Fire Hall when on shift. Lives depend on rapid response. Engaging in sexual activity rather than managing the Platoon is absolutely unacceptable,” said Will Pearce, Chief Administrative Officer for the City.
“I am most disappointed in the majority decision. It sends entirely the wrong message to Fire personnel across the country and to staff of the City of Vernon. It is not now and will never be acceptable or ethical for a direct supervisor to engage in a sexual relationship with junior and subordinate staff."
The city also noted that the fire captain “had previously served a recent three-day suspension for engaging in bullying and harassment of a fellow firefighter.”