A former employee of the South Okanagan Events Centre is suing the private operator of the city-owned facility for wrongful dismissal.
Alan Woods claims in a civil lawsuit filed this week in B.C. Supreme Court that he went on short-term disability from his job as Spectra’s director of operations in May 2019 as a result of “burnout, anxiety and depression.”
Those conditions, he alleges, were brought on by chronic understaffing that led to Woods being given extra duties outside his job description that resulted in him accumulating more than 200 hours of unpaid overtime since he was promoted to the position in 2015.
“The cumulative effect of the additional director of operations duties superimposed upon his director of operation duties was that the plaintiff was forced to work long hours in excess of that originally contemplated by the parties, resulting in significant overtime worked by the plaintiff, and working on his traditional days off, for which he was not paid,” the lawsuit states.
Extra duties, it explains, included hands-on repair and maintenance, covering for absent employees, liaising with Technical Safety BC, co-ordinating with service contractors, plus unspecified management and supervision work outside of Penticton and the province.
Woods also claims he wasn’t the only worker to leave as a result of poor conditions.
“Between 2017 and 2019, due to a toxic work environment, an exodus of important management personnel with the defendants’ organization occurred,” the lawsuit states, before listing eight names attached to titles such as assistant general manager and manager of operations.
“The defendants have achieved significant monetary savings by adding the departed staff’s duties and responsibilities on the plaintiff in addition to his director of operation duties.”
Woods, who was initially hired as conversion supervisor in 2008, says he was making $78,000 a year based on a 40-hour work week as of Dec. 6, 2019, when he determined that his treatment at the hands of his employer amounted to his contract having been terminated.
The lawsuit lists Global Spectrum as the defendant, although the company rebranded as Spectra in 2015.
Philadelphia-based Spectra was in 2018 awarded a fresh 10-year contract to operate the SOEC and two other arenas on behalf of the City of Penticton, which owns the facilities.
Key terms of the 10-year deal include an annual administration fee of $272,000 indexed to inflation, plus a maximum $100,000 annual performance bonus.
The city said in statement Thursday it doesn’t comment “on either its own or another company’s labour matters.”
Neither Spectra nor Woods’ lawyer responded to a request for comment.