Ex-Site-C man­ager files law­suit for wrong­ful dis­missal

Civil ac­tion claims man dis­missed after point­ing out work­place safety con­cerns at dam

The Province - - FRONT PAGE - KEITH FRASER kfraser@post­media.com twit­ter.com/kei­thrfraser

A for­mer man­ager with the Site C dam pro­ject has filed a wrong­ful dis­missal law­suit al­leg­ing he was fired after he raised con­cerns about safety in the work­place.

Kent Pey­ton said that in Jan­uary he was hired to get con­struc­tion of the Peace River dam on sched­ule and on bud­get and that he was re­spon­si­ble for all high-level de­ci­sion-mak­ing re­lated to the ex­ca­va­tion process as well as be­ing in charge of the health and safety of all work­ers.

But in a no­tice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Pey­ton said that in May 2017 op­er­a­tions for a so-called cof­fer­dam ex­ca­va­tion site were sig­nif­i­cantly be­hind sched­ule due to in­ef­fi­cien­cies that pre­dated his em­ploy­ment.

Named as the de­fen­dants in the case are Petrow­est Cor­po­ra­tion and Peace River Hy­dro Part­ners, the lat­ter of which holds the main civil works con­tract for the Site C pro­ject. No re­sponses have been filed to the law­suit, which con­tains al­le­ga­tions that have not been tested in court.

Pey­ton claims that to speed up the op­er­a­tions, other of­fi­cials gave in­struc­tions to work­ers to un­der­take con­struc­tion prac­tices which were dan­ger­ous and likely to lead to a work­place safety in­ci­dent.

Pey­ton said that on a visit to the site on May 10, he found that a wa­ter­tight pit was se­verely over­crowded with work­ers and heavy equip­ment in­clud­ing at least seven ex­ca­va­tors, three bull­doz­ers and six drills — all work­ing in “un­safe” prox­im­ity to one an­other.

He also pointed to ac­cess roads into the pit which he said were steeper than per­mit­ted.

Pey­ton said he ap­proached one of the of­fi­cials and in­structed him cer­tain crews and equip­ment needed to be im­me­di­ately re­lo­cated to an ad­ja­cent work site to safe­guard the health and safety of those on site but that his in­struc­tions were not fol­lowed.

In­stead, he said, the of­fi­cial ini­ti­ated an al­ter­ca­tion be­tween the two men and used abu­sive lan­guage to­wards Pey­ton in front of other work­ers and that the of­fi­cial ac­cused Pey­ton of strik­ing the of­fi­cial, an al­le­ga­tion de­nied by Pey­ton.

The wrong­ful dis­missal suit said that on May 12, Pey­ton was in­formed that as a re­sult of the in­ci­dent, he had been barred from the Site C pro­ject work site un­til fur­ther no­tice and was for­mally ter­mi­nated June 20.

He claims that his em­ploy­ers failed to prop­erly in­ves­ti­gate the in­ci­dent and failed to dis­charge their obli­ga­tion of good faith and fair deal­ing owed to him.

— THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

The Site C Dam lo­ca­tion along the Peace River has been mired in con­tro­versy, in­clud­ing a law­suit from a for­mer man­ager who claims he was fired after point­ing out un­safe prac­tices. The fate of the pro­ject rests in the hands of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

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