Arbitrator rules Kamloops teacher who was fired following kissing incident with former student must be reinstated

Kissing teacher wins case

A Kamloops teacher who was fired in August 2019 for his dishonesty about an incident involving a former student must be reinstated, an arbitrator has ruled.

The dismissal is tied to an incident that happened on Nov. 12, 2016, when Brett Wasylik went to a Kamloops restaurant for an end-of-season celebration dinner with a sports team.

According to a consent resolution agreement, Wasylik approached one of the hostesses—a former student of his—and spoke to her for about five minutes, during which he commented on her appearance and referred to her looking "f**king hot." Wasylik also hugged her, the document says, and showed her a photo of him shirtless.

When she was preparing to leave work, Wasylik offered to walk the then-17-year-old to her car, a situation she was uncomfortable with. Words to the effect of "I'm not going to kiss you, just your neck" were said. Wasylik ended up kissing her neck and the former student drove away, upset by what had transpired. 

The Kamloops-Thompson School District (SD73) launched an investigation shortly after; Wasylik denied the allegations. On Nov. 28, 2016, Wasylik was suspended without pay for three days. He was also required to complete the reinforcing respectful professional boundaries course at the Justice Institute of British Columbia.

On Dec. 6, 2016, SD73 reported Wasylik's misconduct to the British Columbia Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, which resulted in the consent resolution process starting.

On Aug. 23, 2019, a few weeks after the consent resolution agreement was published, Wasylik was let go by SD73. 

The firing was a result of Wasylik's dishonesty, according to information provided in arbitrator Ken Saunders' ruling.

"Your admissions in the consent resolution agreement are in direct conflict with the most serious allegation which you flatly denied in the district's investigation," Wasylik's dismissal letter reads. "The consent resolution agreement provides new and incontrovertible evidence that you lied to the district during the investigation concerning a very serious allegation of sexual contact with the 17-year-old former student. ... The district therefore finds that you have been dishonest either to the district and the district's investigation, or to the commissioner in its preliminary review of your unprofessional conduct. Either outcome is extremely troubling and provides cause for disciplinary dismissal. Further, when we met to specifically address your dishonesty, you did not acknowledge any wrongdoing whatsoever. We have no confidence in your and [sic] trustworthiness as a teacher."

The Kamloops Thompson Teachers Association grieved that Wasylik was dismissed without just cause.

Saunders ruled in the union's favour, citing "the labour relations doctrine of double jeopardy" (being penalized twice for the same offence).

"It is a basic rule of arbitration law that an employer may not impose more than one penalty for the same offence," Saunders ruled.

Saunders goes on to say that once an employer decides "with finality" on a disciplinary response, "it is inherently unfair and inimical" for the employer to revisit the decision and impose a greater penalty, unless the employee has engaged in additional misconduct.

You can read the full decision here.

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