Former Grand Forks firefighter suing department, city over alleged conspiracy, constructed dismissal

Plaintiff Les Cleverly filed a notice of civil claim with the Supreme Court of BC in last week

The City of Grand Forks dismissed Fire Chief Dale Heriot after an independent investigation of workplace conditions at Grand Forks Fire/Rescue in the spring and summer of 2019. Heriot is suing the city for wrongful dismissal in the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver. File photo

The City of Grand Forks dismissed Fire Chief Dale Heriot after an independent investigation of workplace conditions at Grand Forks Fire/Rescue in the spring and summer of 2019. Heriot is suing the city for wrongful dismissal in the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver. File photo

A former Grand Forks firefighter is seeking damages from the city, four previous colleagues at Grand Forks Fire/Rescue and a woman with ties to city first-responders, according to a notice of civil claim filed in Kelowna’s Supreme Court of British Columbia Friday, Jan. 8.

READ MORE: Former Grand Forks fire chief suing city for wrongful dismissal

READ MORE: Grand Forks fire chief won’t be returning to work

The plaintiff, Leslie William Cleverly, alleges that the city tolerated a “toxic” culture of bullying and harassment within the fire department, which the claim says led to his “constructive dismissal” after he initiated a WorkSafeBC claim against former fire chief Dale Heriot, who is himself suing the city for wrongful dismissal.

Cleverly further claims that Heriot, Deputy Chief Rich Piché and firefighter Manfred Bialon spread “false and malicious rumours” in the spring of 2019, including that Cleverly was “a drug dealer” and that he was having “an extramarital affair.”

The lawsuit describes the defendants’ actions as a part of a conspiracy to destroy Cleverly’s career in the city’s community of first-responders (Cleverly is currently employed with the BC Emergency Health Services, BCEHS), his reputation in Grand Forks, and his livelihood through his city business, Ultimate Hockey and Skate, Ltd.

The suit also alleges that Letha Leber, a volunteer firefighter at Grand Forks Fire/Rescue, emailed BCEHS with details of an alleged workplace incident at Grand Forks Fire/Rescue, allegedly to have Cleverly fired as BCEHS’ manager of patient care.

The lawsuit is seeking damages from the city and each of the defendants, as well as injunctions against Heriot, Piché, Bialon and Leber against allegedly repeating hurtful rumours about the plaintiff.

Grand Forks’ chief administrative officer Duncan Redfearn and former chief Heriot said their lawyers were served with Cleverly’s statement of claim on Jan. 12. Piché, Bialon and Leber said they had not been served as of Friday, Jan. 15.

Heriot filed a Supreme Court lawsuit in Vancouver against the City of Grand Forks, alleging his wrongful dismissal in July 2019 after an independent investigation into workplace conditions at Grand Forks Fire/Rescue.

A trial date for former chief Heriot’s wrongful dismissal suit against the City of Grand Forks has been set by the B.C. Supreme Court for Oct. 21 in Vancouver.

None of the defendants have filed a response to Cleverly’s notice of civil claims as of Jan. 15.

Heriot’s civil claim, filed last January, alleges that the city mishandled and misrepresented a human resources investigation into the Grand Forks fire department that resulted in him losing his job. The city in its February 2020 response to Heriot’s claim, disputes the former chief’s allegations.

None of Heriot’s, nor Cleverly’s claims have been tested in a court of law.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CourtfirefightersGrand ForkslawsuitRCMPworkplace harassment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Ambulance Crews prepare to evacuate a sick Greenwood boy by helicopter on Friday, Feb. 26. Photo: Submitted
Greenwood boy taken to hospital by BC Ambulance helicopter

Greenwood volunteer firefighters helped prepare the chopper’s landing

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

Midway RCMP are continuing to investigate a recent burglary near Westbridge, B.C. File photo
Mounties looking for suspect in Boundary burglary

Investigators believe the suspect was driving a Jeep Liberty with a busted side mirror

Lawyers for three Grand Forks Fire/Rescue members denied any wrongdoing against former firefighter Leslie Cleverly, who in January filed a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit against the defendants as well as their former Fire Chief and the City of Grand Forks. File photo
Grand Forks firefighters respond to former colleague’s lawsuit alleging conspiracy

The Supreme Court in Kelowna has not fixed a date for trial

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read