Ex-manager sues city for contract breach, lost pension and pay

Former bylaws manager Rod Davidson claims he was treated unfairly when fired shortly before he qualified for better pension benefits
Rod Davidson
Rod Davidson
A former manager who was fired last year on the orders of city manager Tracy Samra is suing the city for breach of contract and claiming aggravated damages.

Rod Davidson, 59, the city’s previous manager of bylaws, regulation and security, claims in a court filing that the timing of his firing was designed to stop him qualifying for a better monthly pension.

He was terminated less than three months before his five-year anniversary with the city and nine months away from his 60th birthday, two milestones that would have entitled him to better pension benefits, the notice of civil claim states.

Mr. Davidson’s claim says the timing of his firing “without cause and without notice” also resulted in him not qualifying to be paid out for 60 days in unused sick leave.

Rod Davidson law suit

‘Diligently performed duties’

When he joined the city at age 54, it had been agreed during his interview in Dec. 2012 that Mr. Davidson “would work out his last five to six years” with the city, the claim states.

He had previously worked as a senior bylaw officer for the City of Penticton and had been in the municipal pension plan there for more than 15 years.

The notice of claim says Mr. Davidson continued in the pension plan after coming to Nanaimo and he “diligently and faithfully performed his duties” for the city until he was fired.

Although terminated on Sep. 7 last year while Ms. Samra was on leave, it is understood that the city manager gave the order to terminate Mr. Davidson.

At the time, he was the 12th mid-to-upper level manager to leave the city in the previous 12 months, and one of more than 34 non-union staff to leave the city during the current council’s term.

‘Suffered loss and damage’

Under the city’s bylaws, Mr. Davidson was entitled to a minimum of six months pay and potentially more based on his seniority, age and the lack of similar jobs.

At the time he earned a base salary of $104,086 and had a benefit package that included medical, dental, long and short-term disability and life insurance.

The suit claims that as a result of the city’s breach of contract, Mr. Davidson “has suffered and continues to suffer loss and damage” including lost pay, pension loss and “such other loss and damage as may be advised by counsel.”

Aggravated damages

He is asking court to award unspecified damages for breach of contract, aggravated damages, special damages, costs for bringing the suit and court ordered interest.

According to case law, aggravated damages are awarded when an employer terminates an employee in a way that is “unfair or is in bad faith by being, for example, untruthful, misleading or unduly insensitive.”

The lawsuit was filed in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver last Tuesday, one day after city council met in a closed session to discuss labour relations and potential litigation.

The city’s human resources director John Van Horne said the city hasn’t been served notice of the lawsuit.

“I don’t suspect the city will have much to say, if the matter is indeed going to court,” he said.


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  • I am sorry that Mr Davidson was treated this way and now has to sue to have a court force Samra and this yokel council treat him fairly. I suspect this is the tip of the iceberg though because this ruthless bunch of abusers have been running roughshod over dedicated employees without regard for fairness or morals. How’s that Integrity lawsuit going clowns? Do you idiots understand what a contract actually is now? Shame shame.

  • OK, here we go. We’re out of the gate with the lawsuits. Expect more like this. And somehow I don’t think we’ll see suits launched by Samra and Mema. They have different legal challenges to grapple with, like the very real possibility of criminal charges and prosecution. Anyone connected with the city who has had anything to do with Samra’s reign of employment terror – staff, council, contractors and anyone identified in her correspondance, emails and texts – better lawyer up. That karma from your failed palace coup is coming back to get you tenfold.

  • I’m thankful for this source of news and am dismayed that there is no other media in our community that sees fit to inform our citizens of what is happening. It seems to me that Tracy Samra and her gang of 5 should be the object of any law suit, not the City.

  • If Rod Davidson was reading this in the Washington Post, he must be thinking, “deja vu all over again.”

    “MORE THAN the details of the case, President Trump’s tweet early Saturday celebrating the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is what stands out: a marquee of bullying and unseemly behavior by a president. Mr. Trump acts like a nasty, small-minded despot, not the leader of a democracy more than two centuries old in which rule of law is a sturdy pillar. If there is doubt that the timing of Mr. McCabe’s dismissal was driven by political vengeance, Mr. Trump does everything he can to prove the worst with his own sordid words.

    This is the language of a banana republic. In nations without a strong democratic foundation, tyrants cling to power by belittling perceived enemies and insulting and coopting other institutions, such as a free press, law enforcement and the military, coercing them into subservience. Just look around the world at practices today in Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Turkey, to name a few. The banana republic playbook has no place in the United States, not in a town hall, not in a statehouse, least of all in the Oval Office.

    Mr. McCabe is a 21-year-veteran of the FBI and served as deputy director under James B. Comey, whom Mr. Trump fired earlier. A Justice Department inspector general’s report, not yet public, reportedly found that he authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to the media about an investigation involving Hillary Clinton and then misled investigators. He disputes the allegations, noting that he had authority to share the information and corrected what he told investigators. He previously stepped down from the deputy director’s job and was preparing to retire from the FBI on Sunday, which would have assured him of a full federal pension. The rushed timing of the firing on Friday night by Attorney General Jeff Sessions — whose own job security is perpetually threatened by Mr. Trump — robs Mr. McCabe of that full pension.”