Monday, February 26, 2007

From the "oh this is rich" file...

Remember the story about Lyall Thomson?

He's the guy who was paid $179,000 in severance for four months of work as the Superintendent of the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB).

He was paid that thanks to a no-fault clause in his contract that allowed either party to terminate the contract at any time provided that notice was provided or payment in-lieu. It also allows for no blame to be assigned to either party.

He was given no notice, and as such received the equivalent of one-year's salary.

At the time, the CTF argued that no-fault contracts were stupid, because when dealing with tax dollars, taxpayers have a right to know whether they are being spent wisely.

Maybe Mr. Thomson was a complete screw-up and the $179K was a small price to pay to get rid of him. Maybe Mr. Thomson was a maverick trying to shake the status quo and the board didn't like his moxie.

Either way, it's pretty tough for voters to decide whether to re-elect their board members this October when they don't know whether they are making prudent decisions.

Well Mr. Thomson is back in the news, and he's trying to reach into our pocket again by suing the Edmonton Public School Board for $2.25 million for ruining his reputation by not disclosing their reason for his termination.

According to the CBC Story:

In a statement of claim filed Friday in Court of Queen's Bench, Thomson alleges he received little or no feedback on his performance and was never informed his job was in jeopardy.

But on Jan. 10, two trustees went to Thomson's office, read him a letter of termination, gave him a cheque worth one year's salary, and told him to turn over his keys and leave the building immediately, the lawsuit claims.

His lawyer, Barrie Chivers, said the board needs to explain its actions.

"The board is a public body and it owes a duty to its employees, it owes a duty to its public, and one of those duties is that it has to act in a fair and reasonable manner," he said.

Ironically, the stupid no-fault contract the EPSB signed may just win them this suit, but it could cause another one.

I'm no lawyer, but for starters, if Mr. Thomson's reputation was damaged by the board not explaining his termination, too bad. He signed the no-fault contract and that clause doesn't allow the board to explain.

However, according to board chair: "The district has received a statement of claim and the statement contains unproven allegations. And the district will be vigorously defending the claim," said Bev Esslinger.

If the Board comes out too aggressively and attempts to explain why they terminated Mr. Thomson, they may violate the no-fault clause in his employment contract and open themselves up to another lawsuit.

Either way, the board has already given Thomson $243,734.25 for a little over four months of work. They had better not settle, cave or pay him one more taxpayer cent.

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