For several days we’ve been mulling over the article in the paper ( CH Sat. Aug 16th) regarding Kingston Village’s dismissal lawsuit. And now a personnel issue in Wolfville has blown up arisen and prompts us to get going and put our thoughts down. There are connections.
First the Kingston case very briefly, emph ours:
In the original statement of claim, Ms. Rice states that she was asked last December to sign a disciplinary letter that would put her on probation for 12 months and put a reprimand on her record for allegedly missing a funding application deadline.
She said she didn’t sign the letter, and six weeks later was shown another disciplinary letter making several allegations of deficiencies in her job performance.
The second letter, her court documents state, contained “factual errors, substantial omissions and misrepresentations, yet she was not given an opportunity to reply to these accusations.”
Her claim also said that Ms. Rice occasionally “took contrary positions to certain village commissioners or the entire village commission on various issues regarding the proper interpretation of the Municipal Government Act and the limitations within which village commissions are required to operate,” but always conducted herself professionally and courteously.
Ms. Rice had been employed with the commission for eight years.
The documents say that by firing Ms. Rice without cause while she was on sick leave, the village “acted vindictively, callously and in a retaliatory manner.”
Of course there is another side. There always is.
The Village of Kingston says its former clerk-treasurer didn’t do her job well. That’s part of its defence to a wrongful dismissal suit filed by Kelly Rice in June.
In the defence filed at Kentville Supreme Court, the village “denies she performed her duties diligently and that the alleged performance of her duties led to substantial opportunities for the village.”
The village also said that it “denies that she conducted herself at all times in a professional and courteous manner.”
The village said it set out a specific course of action to satisfy concerns about her job performance, including having a future meeting and offering further training.
The defence says the only response to the offer was a letter from Ms. Rice’s solicitor that alleged the village was conducting its affairs contrary to the Municipal Government Act. …
The village denies that she was on sick leave.
None of the allegations have been proven in court … [ link to source]
So who is right? Perhaps they both are. It is likely there were wrongs on both sides but the thing we notice is this– This issue in Kingston is to be decided in open court, where we, taxpayers and residents, can see both sides of the story and make a judgement. This is the right way to do things. When the case is settled – rightly or wrongly- at least townspeople will know some of the details and if money is paid out they will know the reasons given in answer to why.
We don’t know anything about the Kingston case. But at least there wasn’t a back room, in camera, settlement where the municipality buys its way out of a problem with an employee (or whistle blower). Nor has a sloppy civil servant wangled an undeserved windfall monetary handshake by bullying the council behind closed doors when he or she should be fired.
How many wrongful dismissal suits has Wolfville had? On the other hand we could ask the question- how many employee settlements have there been, with the monetary and other grimy details never disclosed to taxpayers and voters?
Since another Wolfville Town employee is coming under scrutiny, or so we hear, we should watch to see whether there will be transparency or whether it will be settled out of court via “in camera” sessions. More about who and what is involved in our next post.