Sunshine Village has fired back with a series of explosive allegations about former employees at the centre of high profile labour troubles at the ski resort.
Sunshine claims four employees were fired for a variety of just cause reasons, including insubordination, sexual harassment, soliciting gifts, fraud and doing private business for profit at the ski hill.
Sunshine says the firing of the four had nothing to do with an incident involving Taylor Scurfield – the son of owner Ralph Scurfield – who was busted in a closed area of the resort in mid-December.
“Sunshine terminated the employment of each plaintiff as a result of separate events and incidents that constituted just cause for termination based on individual circumstances,” according to Sunshine.
Sunshine Village and Taylor Scurfield filed two separate statements of defence in Calgary’s Court of Queen’s Bench on March 3 in response to a wrongful dismissal suit by Chris Chevalier, Ben Chevalier, Rowan Harper and Chris Conway.
The four long-term employees say their Dec. 29 firings were directly linked to an incident involving the younger Scurfield, who, along with friends, was discovered in a closed area in mid-December.
None of the claims on either side have been proven in court.
Chris Chevalier, better known as Chevy, said the four deny the allegations of their former employer.
“We are shocked, appalled and disappointed,” he said. “Our reply will be filed with the court in the next few days.”
In their defence documents, Sunshine alleges Chris Chevalier built a culture of “corruption, antagonism, intimidation and confrontation” within the mountain operations group, which he described as “mountain culture”.
They claim Chevalier, who was mountain and risk manager, failed to “engage in proper risk and safety management” and refused to support a “culture of safety” at the hill by refusing to attend safety meetings.
The defence documents also state Chevalier resisted management’s decision to ban alcohol in the workplace, including putting a stop to drinking alcohol in Sunshine vehicles. He also further challenged that decision, they allege, by allowing a sign to be hung up on a staff fridge that read: “20 years tradition gone WTF”.
According to Sunshine, Chevalier also fought against the removal of pictures hung up in the workplace that denigrated women on the basis the pictures were a “loss of mountain culture”.
The documents go on to say he charged skiers for Tensor bandages and other medical supplies and solicited unauthorized payments from skiers. It’s alleged he funneled proceeds into undisclosed funds and bank accounts, which ski patrollers called the “Patrollers Benevolent Fund”.
Sunshine claims Chevalier provided full-time IDs for friends, which allowed them to ski for free at other ski resorts in B.C. and Alberta.
As well, Sunshine claims he conducted private business for profit at the hill.
As for ski patroller Chris Conway, Sunshine says he prepared a false report regarding the treatment of Taylor Scurfield.
They say he went against Sunshine’s policies and codes of conduct and behaviour by confiscating VIP guest passes of the younger Scurfield and his friends and refusing to return a driver’s licence.
The statement of defence claims Conway was insolent and insubordinate, rude and disrespectful to senior management, and was threatening and abusive towards Sunshine guests.
According to Sunshine, Ben Chevalier, who was the lift operations supervisor, was let go for just cause for conducting private business for profit at work and failing to properly account for funds under his control.
They also say Ben Chevalier, who is the nephew of Chris, was never told “blood is thicker than water” when he was dismissed.
As for Rowan Harper, snow safety supervisor, Sunshine claims he was never questioned about the conduct of ski patrollers towards Taylor Scurfield, as he had no involvement in that incident.
But they say he was let go for issuing full-time employee ID to his girlfriend, issuing friends season passes, and for “antagonistic, belittling and disrespectful conduct”.
In a separate statement of defence, Taylor Scurfield alleges he was treated badly by staff, including being subjected to rude, aggressive, threatening and condescending treatment.
He also denies he threatened the ski patrollers, and in particular, never threatened he would “jump” them on the way to the infirmary where the young skiers were taken against their wishes.
He also says he never indicated he was Ralph’s son, just a member of the Scurfield family, nor did he try to use his influence to have the four men fired.
The two Chevalier men, Harper and Conway are seeking more than $400,000 in damages.