A former band administrator has filed a civil lawsuit against the Penticton Indian Band for wrongful dismissal.
Brent Ryan-Lewis claims he entered a written contract of employment with the PIB and after working for two months in the role he realized the job duties become “far in excess” of what was laid out in the written employment contract. In November of 2017 he approached the PIB about terminating it.
The claim states the PIB instructed its director of human resources and chief financial officer to undertake a review of Ryan-Lewis’ position and remuneration. As a result of that review, a recommendation was made to the band council to revise the job title and remuneration to Ryan-Lewis.
On March 20, 2018 the PIB approved a revision of the contract where Ryan-Lewis received the new title of chief administrative officer and a “significant increase in remuneration,” retroactively to Jan. 8, 2018.
Ryan-Lewis alleges that in April 2018 he began to raise questions about some decisions being made the PIB Chief and band council in accordance with his duties under the relevant legislation and the PIB financial administration law. Almost a month later the PIB decided to terminate his employment with alleged cause for dismissal.
Ryan-Lewis said he was not provided with reasonable notice, which he was entitled to under his contract. He said they also failed to ensure he was able to respond to the allegations against him, they failed to provide him protection as a whistleblower to ensure he did not suffer from retribution or retaliation for raising concerns about activities by the PIB Chief and band council and there was false allegations of wrongdoing made about him.
At the time of his dismissal, Ryan-Lewis said he is entitled to a compensation package which included annual income of approximately $169,399.67, three weeks vacation, participation in the PIB registered pension plan, mobile phone allowance of $65 per month and a comprehensive benefits package.
“The defendant’s treatment of the plaintiff in the course of dismissal was hard and unduly insensitive toward the plaintiff and caused him mental distress over and above the normal distress and hurt feelings resulting from the dismissal itself,” the claim states.
Ryan-Lewis is now unemployed and resides in Manitoba, where he originally relocated his family from to take the job with the Penticton Indian Band.