The City of Grand Forks has formally denied all claims in a lawsuit by former city firefighter Leslie Cleverly, who in January filed suit with the Kelowna Supreme Court against the city and several current and former members of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue.
Cleverly, who took a leave from the department in July 2019, is seeking damages against the city for having allegedly altered his job duties as a volunteer firefighter to the point where his service became effectively meaningless.
He is also seeking damages against former Chief Dale Heriot and three other firefighters, including Dep. Rich Piché, alleging they conspired to harm his reputation and his livelihood. Cleverly also claims the city permitted a “toxic work environment” at the fire department, allegedly “spearheaded” by Heriot and Piché.
In its response, the city joined Piché and other co-defendants in denying all of Cleverly’s substantive claims and opposing all his claims for damages. The city denied that Cleverly was ever a city employee or that he ever received a salary for his volunteer service at the fire department. The city also denied Cleverly’s claim that WorkSafe BC determined that he was constructively dismissed from the department.
The city further claims it acted in good faith when it appointed an independent investigator to assess Cleverly’s concerns about the department’s workplace culture. Denying that there had been a “toxic work environment,” the city countered that Cleverly’s attendance record “raised legitimate concern” about his commitment to the department and that he unreasonably went on leave.
The court has not fixed a date for trial. Meanwhile, none of Cleverly’s or the City of Grand Forks’ claims have been tested in court.