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Wrongful dismissal lawsuit against RMOW resolved

RMOW settles and B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claims in Harry Kim suit



The municipality has quietly resolved a wrongful dismissal lawsuit initiated by a former senior employee, after both sides agreed to settle the case without costs.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed both Harry Kim's claim of wrongful dismissal and the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) counterclaim that Kim owed it more than $12,000 in unpaid rent.

Kim was the municipality's general manager of environmental services for roughly a year and a half, a key member of the senior management team at the hall, hired under the former CAO Bill Barratt.

According to court documents, Kim alleged he was terminated without cause and without notice; this, he claimed, after the municipality wooed him from secure employment in Toronto with several inducements including "positive assurances during recruitment... regarding security of tenure."

The municipality denied it "induced" Kim to Whistler and that his alleged inducements were terms of employment negotiated between the two parties.

The municipality also later claimed in court that while reviewing Kim's email account for the wrongful dismissal suit, it uncovered information that Kim was sub-consulting with his former employer, Wardrop Engineering, now called Tetra Tech WEI while employed with the RMOW, "which give cause for the termination."

According to court documents, Kim's contract included, among other things: a base salary of $149,895; extended health and medical benefits; a $500 car allowance and fuel card per month; participation in the municipal pension plan; 46 days of paid vacation per year; two additional weeks of paid leave per year.

Kim, the RMOW claimed in court, was advised at the end of August 2011 that "Municipal Council was seriously considering terminating his employment without cause." Among the reasons listed were concerns over trustworthiness and a lack of respect both within the organization and external to the organization.

He was fired on Sept. 9 with two weeks wages. Kim immediately began legal action.

In addition to the main wrongful dismissal suit, a secondary counterclaim was initiated by the RMOW.

The counterclaim involves the issue of residential rent. In court documents the municipality alleged Kim owed $12,250 in unpaid rent for five months or $2,450 per month. Kim alleged he "told Bill Barratt he was unwilling to pay anywhere near $2,450 per month."

Barratt, he alleged, said he would look into the matter and Kim never brought it up again.

On Feb. 15 the court ordered that the claim and the counterclaim be dismissed without costs to either party via a Consent Order — a legally binding document settling the case without having to wait for a court judgment.