By Jeff Groat & Matt DiMera
[coordinating editor & news editor]
Former general manager Desmond Rodenbour is suing the Kwantlen Student Association for wrongful dismissal, breach of employment contract and for defamation, seven months after he was abruptly fired in February 2011.
A notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court Aug. 26 alleges that the KSA breached his contract and “terminated Rodenbour’s employment for cause despite being aware that no cause for termination existed.”
It further alleges that “open and public discussions regarding Rodenbour’s employment, and the attack on Rodenbour’s reputation in open Council meetings on 12 January 2011 and 9 February 2011, irreparably tarnished his professional reputation.”
According to Rodenbour’s statement of claim, he was fired improperly after the previous KSA executive board commissioned a consultant’s report on the governance and structure of the KSA. The Baldwin report, Rodenbour claims, is built on false statements which wrongly attack his tenure as GM.
The claim alleges that consultant Wayne Baldwin was hired to complete a “strategic review” of the KSA, but that Baldwin had an undisclosed pre-existing relationship with the then-chair of the KSA’s executive board. It alleges that at the Jan. 12 special council meeting, Rodenbour’s employment and his possible termination was discussed publicly with students and staff present.
The claim also singles out Sean Bassi and Nina Sandhu, who are current council members, of offering their votes of support for Rodenbour in exchange for his efforts to intercede with the KSA’s chief returning officer on their behalf. At the time Sandhu and Bassi were facing serious allegations of wrongdoing and of campaign improprieties in the 2011 KSA election campaign, according to Rodenbour’s claim.
The claim further alleges that the current KSA executive board issued a defamatory press release in early August, falsely accusing Rodenbour of fraud, embezzlement, mismanagement, corruption, conflict of interest, improper sexual relations, and wrongful interference with a purported forensic audit.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
KSA president and spokesperson Harman “Sean Diddy Birdman” Bassi declined to comment, saying the matter was before the courts.
Rodenbour’s claim seeks general, special, punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages, but does not ask for a specific dollar amount. An earlier demand letter sent by Rodenbour’s lawyers to the KSA asked for more than $300,000 to settle. However, that demand was sent before the allegedly defamatory August KSA press release.
That press release has since been removed from the KSA’s website.
Rodenbour had worked for the KSA since 1999 and had been general manager since November 2006 up until his termination.When Rodenbour became the general manager after a court-ordered KSA election in 2006, the KSA was running an operational deficit of more than $350,000, according to the statement of claim.
It further claims that, by 2010, Rodenbour had led the KSA to improve its student services and more than doubled its revenues.
About the Author: The Runner is owned by students and created for students. We are the premier news and culture source for students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
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