The City of Nanaimo is embroiled in legal action with another former high-ranking manager, and filed a response this past June to a lawsuit brought forward more than a year earlier.
Ex-chief financial officer Victor Mema filed a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court in May 2021, citing wrongful dismissal by the City of Nanaimo. The city filed its response June 20.
In his court filing, Mema asserted the “conduct of the city was a material and fundamental breach of its obligation of good faith and fair dealing,” causing distress to the plaintiff. He is seeking damages for breach of contract and “special damages for out-of-pocket expenses incurred to mitigate his losses and obtain alternative, comparable employment,” with more information to be provided if the matter goes to trial.
Mema began working for the city in September 2015. His work credit card privileges were suspended in October 2017 pending a review of purchase card practices across the organization, according to his statement of facts. City policy allowed for purchasing cards to be used for personal use at the time, claimed Mema.
The card was offered back to Mema after the review concluded in January 2018, but he declined, he contends. The CFO was suspended with pay two months later as an investigation was conducted through the city’s “reporting serious misconduct policy,” according to the plaintiff.
A city press release from March 2018 notified the public about the investigation, but Mema claims he was not given the particulars. Further, he claims the city did not follow its serious misconduct policy and “did not undertake any investigation of the allegations.” City and councillors “leaked personal information” to the media, he claimed, adding that the city did not have reason to fire him.
The city disputed many of the plaintiff’s claims in its response. The city asserts that the CFO signed an agreement with a clause prohibiting use of the purchasing card for personal purchases, and violating those terms could be deemed “misappropriation of city funds” and could lead to disciplinary action including termination. The city also also denies approving the CFO’s credit card use for personal expenses.
The city also claims that the serious misconduct policy investigation was carried out fairly and impartially, adding that Mema was provided a letter informing him how the city reached its decision. Factors included the alleged $14,000 in personal expenses charged and his alleged authorization of legal fee payments for personal legal advice the city claims the CFO provided to the chief administrative officer.
The city stated it had no knowledge of how information about the ex-CFO’s alleged misconduct “found its way into the public sphere” and denies leaking it.
Mema also filed a human rights complaint against the city, citing racism, in 2018.
None of the claims have been proven in court.