Firefighter’s off-duty driving suspension doesn’t warrant firing

Strong job performance and respect of firefighters meant off-duty incident didn’t irreparably harm employment relationship: Court
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 04/11/2018

Failing two breathalyzer tests while driving off-duty and a 90-day driving suspension did not provide just cause to dismiss a well-respected and accomplished British Columbia firefighter, the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled.

Kerry Klonteig was a firefighter for the city of Kelowna, B.C. He first trained as a firefighter in 1990 and worked as an on-call firefighter — working another job while responding to a call if there’s a fire — in Nanaimo, B.C, before transferring to Kelowna in 1992. Three years later, he became a full-time firefighter for Kelowna.

Klonteig performed well in his work as a full-time firefighter and was promoted to the position of assistant fire chief in 2005 — one of four assistant chiefs reporting to the city’s fire chief. He was responsible for operations, co-ordination of resources for major incidents, and human resource issues — he spent the majority of his time on labour relations with the union and relations with the firefighters.