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Bill Barratt says lawsuit not about the money

Former CAO seeks more than $400,000 for two years' wages



Bill Barratt said it's not about the money; that's not why he's suing the municipality for wrongful dismissal.

Instead, it's about righting a wrong and clearing his besmirched reputation at the end of his long municipal career.

"It's about the principle," the former CAO told the Pique this week. "It's about treating people with respect."

In a civil claim filed in the B.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 22, Barratt said he was wrongfully dismissed this summer, decided, according to his claim, by council in a 4 to 3 vote at a closed-door meeting.

According to his claim that is a breach in his Employment Contract, which means he is entitled to more than $400,000 - 24 months' salary and benefits.

"My reputation is important to me," said Barratt. "I've given 30 years to the municipality and I don't tolerate that kind of shit. It's that simple."

As the news of the lawsuit went viral, community members expressed their dismay at another lawsuit against the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), the second this year. The RMOW is going to court with asphalt plant owner Frank Silveri in November over the zoning of his operations.

When asked about the backlash in the social media, Barratt said:

"If I worried about public opinion I would have left that job 15 years ago. At the end of the day if I'm wrong I guess the courts will say that. But I don't think I am."

With the matter now before the courts, Mayor Ken Melamed, speaking from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention said he could not comment on the case.

"It's not appropriate for me to speak to it given that we're now facing legal action," he said.

"I guess council will have to have a discussion in the next closed meeting about the letter and give direction to our legal counsel based on input from the legal counsel."

The notice of civil claim, however, lays out Barratt's side of the story.

The claim states that in January Barratt advised Mayor Melamed that "he intended to retire on June 30, 2011 or a date after the hiring of his replacement, whichever was later."

The claim then states that the RMOW advised him around June 21 that council "resolved to terminate his employment in advance of his chosen resignation date by a four to three resolution. The four Council Members who voted in favour of terminating Mr. Barratt's employment were Members Milner, Forsythe (sic), Lamont and Zeidler."

In response, Barratt wrote to council saying "his termination of employment would be contrary to his Resignation letter and his terms of employment. No replacement had been hired by the Defendant (the municipality)."