In a response to a lawsuit launched by its former chief executive officer, the Northern B.C. Tourism Association is denying Anthony Everett's claim he was unfairly dismissed from his job.
Rather, in addition to offering him a different position within the organization, the NBCTA says in a response file Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in Prince George, it paid Everett three months salary in lieu of notice after letting him go as CEO.
Everett, the volunteer chair of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, parted ways with the NBCTA in September 2015 and in January he filed a lawsuit claiming the NBCTA "breached duties of good faith, honesty and fair dealing" when told he would no longer be employed in the position.
In its response, the NBCTA also says it continued to pay Everett, who was earning $115,000 a year, a salary for nine of the 15 months he was off work because of illness "despite being under no contractual or legal obligation to do so."
Everett, who was named a 2015 Citizen of the Year by the Prince George Community Foundation, went on medical leave in July 2014 after he was diagnosed with cancer, according to his notice of claim. By April 2015 he had qualified for long-term disability benefits through insurance coverage the NBCTA provided to employees, according to the response.
Also according to the response, in December 2015, Everett met with NBCTA board members in Vancouver where he attempted to persuade them that "given the continual uncertainty of its government funding, that the organization was not viable over the long term."
Everett further urged the board members to cease the NBCTA's operations, "wind up, sell its assets, and provide generous severance packages to him and the remainder of the staff."
The NBCTA refused as it was negotiating with Destination BC - a Crown corporation formerly known as Tourism BC - for a financial commitment and was optimistic it may receive up to two years of funding.
In July, Everett told the NBCTA he should be medically cleared to return to work in mid-September.
But according to Everett, on Sept. 10, 2015, five days before he was to resume his job, he was told he could not return and to distance himself from the office until he had met with the board's chair.
Some 10 days later, they did meet and Everett was given the news he would no longer be CEO and he was offered the lesser position of destination and business developer reporting directly to the CEO.
The position came with an annual salary of $85,000, representing a drop of $30,000 from what he previously earned before an annual bonus of $5,000 to $6,000 per year.
The move amounted to constructive dismissal, Everett argues in his notice but the NBCTA asserts the contract of employment was "lawfully terminated in accordance with the specific provisions contained therein and that common law notice entitlement does not apply."
The allegations have not yet been tested in court .