HALIFAX: The former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Richmond County is taking the municipality and the three councillors who voted to terminate his contract to court.
On June 12 in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, Kent MacIntyre filed a notice of action alleging libel, slander and wrongful dismissal against Richmond Warden Brian Marchand, Deputy Warden Alvin Martell and District 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher, as well as the Municipality of the County of Richmond.
Against the municipality, MacIntyre is specifically requesting special damages of approximately $492,915, as well as a public apology. As is the case against Richmond County, MacIntyre is seeking general damages; aggravated or moral damages; punitive damages; pre-judgement interest at five per cent; post-judgement interest at five per cent; costs and disbursements; and other relief deemed equitable by the court against Marchand, Martell and Boucher.
The statement said that MacIntyre relocated to Richmond County after being recruited by the municipality. He took over the position on January 1, 2018 at an annual salary of $131,444.
Then during a meeting on April 1, council voted to immediately terminate his contract with the municipality.
“Boucher, Marchand and Martell stated their concerns with the performance of the CAO and alleged and insinuated, without basis, that MacIntyre had mishandled and/or misappropriated Richmond’s sundry account and wrongly hidden or withheld information about the account,” the statement of claim reads.
During a special meeting of council on April 4, the statement contends that Marchand outlined the reasons for MacIntyre’s termination, but later, council voted to send a letter to the former CAO that his termination had been “without cause.” The suit alleges that after the vote on April 1, MacIntyre’s employment relationship was complete, and the April 4 statements were an attempt to “re-characterize” the reasons for his dismissal.
The statement asserts that the reasons for his termination – which were expressed publicly by Boucher and Marchand – are “false,” and even if true, do not amount to cause.
“MacIntyre puts Richmond to the strictest proof that it had cause to terminate him,” the statement reads. “MacIntyre states that he has been wrongfully dismissed by Richmond.”
As a result of this wrongful dismissal, MacIntyre wants the remainder of the salary owed to him had he finished the full five-year term of his contract, which amounts to 45 months.
“As a majority of the council voted to terminate MacIntyre, and given the manner in which the dismissal occurred, MacIntyre pleads that reinstatement is not realistic and that his working relationship with Richmond has been irreparably broken.”
MacIntyre states the municipality failed in its duty of good faith and fair dealing owed to him as an employee and this bad faith in firing him voided his employment agreement. He contends he was owed reasonable notice for his dismissal.
Further, the statement argues that the municipality’s breach of its fiduciary duty constitutes “a separate actionable wrong” which entitles MacIntyre to general and punitive damages.
The statement of claim outlines that MacIntyre’s job performance and employment status were not agenda items at the April 1 meeting. It also said his termination violated section 22 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA), as well as Richmond’s Code of Conduct Policy.
“Instead, Boucher, Marchand and Martell discussed, met, and conspired to suddenly bring forward and pass the motion to terminate MacIntyre’s employment and to have him escorted from the building,” the statements contends.
MacIntyre’s statement reads that the three councillors did induce a breach of contract against him and did wrongfully interfere with his contractual relationship with the municipality. This harmed MacIntyre “economically and emotionally,” and entitles him to general and aggravated damages from Marchand, Martell and Boucher, according to the statement.
“MacIntyre has suffered harm as a result of the humiliating, unfair and bad faith manner in which he was dismissed by Richmond,” the statement reads. “… MacIntyre has suffered significant mental distress, emotional harm, and loss of dignity. Furthermore, Richmond’s conduct in dismissing MacIntyre has irreparably harmed MacIntyre’s personal and professional reputation.”
Because the councillors violated terms of the MGA, MacIntyre believes he is entitled to aggravated and punitive damages.
“As such, MacIntyre states that Marchand, Boucher and Martell did unlawfully interfere with his economic interests and that this was a separate actionable wrong entitling him to general damages…”
Also, because council did not provide MacIntyre an opportunity to respond to the reasons for his dismissal, the statement said the municipality failed its duty of procedural fairness and violated his Charter right to pursue his occupation of choice.
“This Charter violation entitles MacIntyre to damages separate and apart from any other damages ordered, as a vindication of his fundamental rights.”
The statement also claims that Marchand and Boucher made statements which constitute libel and slander and for which the municipality is liable.
“… Richmond and its council members Boucher and Marchand maliciously defamed MacIntyre in their statements made in council on April 1 and 4,” the statement reads. “As part of the public record, this was libel.
“In the alternative, the malicious statements about MacIntyre made by Boucher and Marchand at the meeting of April 1, 2019 and as made by Marchand in his public statement and answers to the public on April 4, 2019, particularly given their context were slander.”
The statement contends that the “malicious defamatory statements and insinuations” about MacIntyre damaged his reputation. The statement confirmed that since his termination, MacIntyre has made “numerous applications” for employment opportunities, but has yet to be offered an interview.
“A reasonable person would find MacIntyre has suffered humiliation, distress, and loss of esteem as a result,” the statement reads. “Further, these statements have contributed to the loss of his employment and, having tarnished his reputation, difficulty attaining new, suitable employment.”