A former assistant fire chief is taking the City of Nanaimo to court, claiming he hasn’t been paid for more than 1,700 hours of work.
Daniel Murphy, 59, claims he is owed $133,957 in unpaid wages after working 1,752 hours of on-call shift work between February 2017 and May 2018, according to a notice of civil claim filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Court documents show that Murphy began working in the Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s operations department in 2008. In 2011, Murphy accepted an offer from the fire chief at the time to be become the assistant chief of education and training in the administration department.
As part of his employment agreement, Murphy alleges the assistant fire chief position did not involve any work in the operations department, nor did it require any on-call shift work, according to court documents, which show that those terms were “important factors” in Murphy’s decision.
Murphy never worked an on-call shift or spent any time in the operations department between 2011 and early 2017.
However, according to the claim, by February 2017, shortly after Karen Fry became the city’s fire chief, Murphy was told he would be required to perform on-call work in the operations department.
Murphy, who was making $132,436 a year, claims he repeatedly objected that decision but that the city gave him two choices: work on call shifts in the operations department or lose his job. He then proceeded to work 1,752 hours of on-call shift work between February 2017 and May 2018, at which he went on medical leave as a result of “stress imposed upon him” according to the claim.
Another aspect of Murphy’s claim stems from an agreement within fire department known as “black book time.”
According to court documents, Murphy, along with other employees, and the fire department had an arrangement in which they would be compensated for overtime work by “way of vacation time” which had come to be known as black book time within the department. Murphy claims that when Fry became fire chief, that policy was eliminated and no one would be compensated for any unused black book time they had earned.
As a result, Murphy claims he had 294 hours of unused black book time and is owed $15,291.
While on medical leave Murphy discovered that someone was offered his job, but turned it down, the court documents show.
In June, Murphy informed the city that he “elected to treat the unilateral changes to his job position as repudiation of his employment contract.”
Murphy is seeking payment of $149,248 as a result of his unpaid overtime and on-call wages.
Lisa Low, attorney representing Murphy, provided a statement to the News Bulletin saying that her client is “happy to have the matter before the courts and looks forward to having the issue resolved with certainty.”
John Van Horne, the city’s director of human resources, did not respond to the News Bulletin’s request for comment.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.