Petrow­est sued by for­mer Site C man­ager

Petrow­est Corp. is a de­fen­dant in a law­suit from a for­mer man­ager at the Site C dam. The man­ager, Kent Pey­ton, claims that he lost his job af­ter an al­ter­ca­tion over safety is­sues. Site C Dam

Stockwatch Daily - - FRONT PAGE - by Mike Caswell

PETROW­EST CORP. is fac­ing a law­suit in the Supreme Court of Bri­tish Columbia from Kent Pey­ton, a man who claims that he was fired for no good rea­son from a man­age­ment po­si­tion at the Site C dam. Mr. Pey­ton says that he lost his $854,000-per-year job in a hu­mil­i­at­ing, cal­lous and in­sen­si­tive man­ner. The dis­missal came af­ter a dis­agree­ment over safety at the site, he claims.

The al­le­ga­tions are con­tained in a no­tice of claim that Mr. Pey­ton filed at the Van­cou­ver court­house on Oct. 4, 2017. In the suit, he ex­plains how Petrow­est lured him away from his job of nine ye ars as a se­nior vice-pres­i­dent at Flat­iron Group to be­come the Site C dam construction di­rec­tor. His em­ploy­ment at Petrow­est, as de­scribed in the suit, was to be for at least five years. Mr. Pey­ton’s pay dur­ing that term, with bonuses and other al­lowances, was to be­gin at $854,000 and reach $984,727 in the fi­nal year. Although he was a Petrow­est em­ployee, he ac­tu­ally worked for an af­fil­i­ate, Peace River Hy­dro Part­ners, he says.

Mr. Pey­ton claims that he ac­cepted the po­si­tion in Jan­uary, 2017, and re­signed his job at Flat­iron. At Site C, he had ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity for con­struct­ing the dam, he says. This in­cluded mak­ing all high-level de­ci­sions re­lated to the ex­ca­va­tion process. He was also re­spon­si­ble for the health and safety of all those work­ing on the dam, the suit states.

Mr. Pey­ton’s em­ploy­ment sounded rather grand, but it was also quite brief. On May 10, 2017, he was in­volved in what he calls an “in­ci­dent.” He says that prior to that date the project di­rec­tor for the site had ini­ti­ated construction prac­tices that were dan­ger­ous and likely to lead to a safety is­sue. This was part of an ef­fort to speed up a cof­fer­dam ex­ca­va­tion that was be­hind sched­ule.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Pey­ton, when he dis­cov­ered th­ese un­safe prac­tices he gave im­me­di­ate in­struc­tions to rem­edy the is­sue. He or­dered crews that were work­ing in a wa­ter­tight pit to re­lo­cate to an­other part of the si te. Th­ese crews were in dan­ger be­cause they were work­ing in un­safe prox­im­ity to each other, the suit states.

Mr. Pey­ton claims that the su­per­vi­sor who re­ceived his in­struc­tions re­fused to fol­low them, and in­stead ini­ti­ated an al­ter­ca­tion. That al­ter­ca­tion, as de­scribed in the suit, in­cluded abu­sive lan­guage. The su­per­vi­sor also ac­cused Mr. Pey­ton of strik­ing him, an ac­cu­sa­tion that Mr. Pey­ton says was en­tirely un­true.

Two days af­ter that in­ci­dent, Petrow­est chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Rick Quigley con­tacted Mr. Pey­ton, the suit states. Mr. Quigley told Mr. Pey­ton that he was not per­mit­ted to re­turn to the job site. Later that same day, em­ploy­ees at the site re­ceived a mem­o­ran­dum which stated that Mr. Pey­ton was no longer em­ployed there. Mr. Pey­ton says that Petrow­est of­fi­cially fired him on June 20, 2017, with­out en­gag­ing him in any sub­stan­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the in­ci­dent.

As Mr. Pey­ton sees things, this was un­fair to him. “By fail­ing to en­gage Mr. Pey­ton in any in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the cir­cum­stances of the In­ci­dent ... and by an­nounc­ing the ter­mi­na­tion of his em­ploy­ment to all em­ploy­ees with­out any prior no­tice to Mr. Pey­ton, the Em­ployer failed to dis­charge its obli­ga­tion of good faith and fair deal­ing,” the suit states. More­over, Peace River Hy­dro fired Mr. Pey­ton in a “cal­lous and in­sen­si­tive” man­ner, ac­cord­ing to the suit.

Mr. Pey­ton fur­ther claims that he is en­ti­tled to ag­gra­vated and puni­tive dam­ages. He says that Peace River Hy­dro caused him pub­lic hu­mil­i­a­tion with the way that it ended his em­ploy­ment. To that end, the suit con­tains many ad­jec­tives to de­scribe his fir­ing, call­ing it “harsh, vin­dic­tive, rep­re­hen­si­ble, and ma­li­cious,” among other things.

Mr. Pey­ton is seek­ing ap­pro­pri­ate dam­ages, court costs and in­ter­est. Van­cou­ver lawyer Veron­ica Ros­sos of Sin­gle­ton Urquhart LLP filed the suit on his be­half. In ad­di­tion to Petrow­est, the suit names Peace River Hy­dro as a de­fen­dant.

For Petrow­est, the law­suit from Mr. Pey­ton is just one of its problems. On Aug. 11, 2017, the com­pany said that it had re­ceived no­tice from its part­ner in Peace River Hy­dro that the com­pany’s in­ter­est in the project was be­ing ter­mi­nated. This was be­cause Petrow­est had only paid $2.5-mil­lion of a $15-mil­lion work­ing cap­i­tal con­tri­bu­tion.

The com­pany also re­ceived a delist­ing no­tice from the Toronto Stock Ex­change on Aug. 21, 2017. The TSX said that the com­pany no longer met list­ing re­quire­ments. The stock, which had a 52-week high of 33 cents, was last at nine cents.

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