Ex-Site-C manager files lawsuit for wrongful dismissal
Civil action claims man dismissed after pointing out workplace safety concerns at dam
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 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.