Bylaw officer’s firing cost town over $160k
January 9, 2013
BRACEBRIDGE - It cost the Town of Bracebridge over $158,000 in legal costs to make amends with bylaw officer Ted Lowcock after he was fired two years ago.
The number was revealed to this newspaper by Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith on Thursday, Jan. 3, a few weeks after Lowcock’s official reinstatement date. The 21-year town employee was fired in December 2010 after a number of people alleged he addressed his boss with homophobic slurs, harassed a fellow colleague, slacked off during work hours and that he ordered student employees not to outshine him.
Smith said it cost about $158,000 to cover associated legal fees in handling Lowcock’s case. The additional cost of hiring labour arbitrator Louisa M. Davie to resolve matters was pegged at about $32,000.
“This has been over a couple of years, so I think generally all those costs have been dealt with,” Smith said of the legal costs. “There may be some minor impacts in 2013, but those costs have been absorbed as we’ve gone along through this process.”
Bracebridge CAO John Sisson said in an email that the cost of hiring Davie was spread out over two years. Sisson said although legal costs exceeded the town’s 2012 legal budget, “other favourable variances during this past year will offset the legal over-expenditure in whole or in part.”
“There is no budgetary impact expected in the draft 2013 municipal budget related to this arbitration matter, which is now concluded,” he said.
As part of his reinstatement, Lowcock keeps his seniority and rank, but will not receive his two years of lost wages. He has also been ordered by Davie to attend communication training.
Lowcock has worked with the town since 1989, when he started in the water and sewer department. He has been a bylaw officer since 1993.
Smith confirmed Lowcock was back in the office as of Jan. 2.
“He was doing some training,” Smith said the following day. “Our paths didn’t cross.”
Despite Lowcock’s apparent work performance problems, Davie’s 60-page ruling gave him his job back after determining his employer did not give him a fair chance to fix his behaviour.
Davie’s ruling said the town had noted performance problems with Lowcock dating back to before 2010, but largely failed to react with appropriate disciplinary action. In August that year, Lowcock allegedly called Sisson a “fag” and a “queer,” and reportedly ordered two student employees to slow their pace of work so they wouldn’t outshine him. He then got into a spat with Sisson in the CAO’s office in early September.
He is reported to have made more homophobic comments about Sisson in mid-October to a driver he ticketed, at the same time he allegedly dubbed a colleague a “fat ass” while deriding that colleague’s accomplishments in a loud conversation with another person. The subject of Lowcock’s comment overhead the conversation and complained to Sisson about the harassment.
In November, chief bylaw officer Scott Stakiw caught Lowcock at home during work hours taking an unauthorized extended break. That was followed by a bizarre episode in which Lowcock apparently staked out Stakiw’s home in a supposed attempt to monitor when his supervisor went for lunch.
It was late November by the time Lowcock’s superiors finally approached him about his behaviour. In the ensuing labour arbitration hearings, Lowcock denied all the allegations against him.
Lowcock had previously been given a contract to sign which indicated he understood and accepted his duties and job obligations, but otherwise was largely spared from disciplinary action.
The only exception appears to be a one-day suspension without pay that Lowcock received in 2009 after a member of the public complained about inappropriate behaviour on his part. The impact of the discipline, however, was gradually watered down after Lowcock got his pay back from that day a year later upon filing a grievance with his union. In settling that matter in August 2010, the town noted that there was “no known cause for other discipline.”
This article is for personal use only courtesy of cottagecountrynow.ca - a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.