The City of Nanaimo says there is no basis for the courts to award damages for mental distress alleged in a notice of claim filed by a former chief administrative officer.
Tracy Samra, fired in 2018, filed a notice of civil suit against the city, former mayor Bill McKay and current Coun. Sheryl Armstrong in May 2021. In a response filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. last month, the city denied many of the plaintiff’s claims and alleged she acted improperly.
While Samra claimed she was “repeatedly bullied and harassed by McKay and Armstrong, each of whom engaged in a course of conduct of false allegations of fraud, misuse of public monies and other attacks on [her] character” and the city took no steps to “stop the mistreatment of Samra, or take reasonable steps to discipline McKay or Armstrong,” the defendants refuted those assertions.
From November 2015-2018, Samra “engaged in acts which disclosed incompetence, misconduct and made threats against various individuals,” the defendants claim in their response.
On Jan. 31, 2018, after McKay informed senior management and council that RCMP would be initiating an investigation into credit card use, the city alleges Samra “made threatening comments to a number of employees and the mayor,” in violation of city workplace regulations. Among her transgressions, Samra is alleged to have demanded city employees go to her office “right [expletive] now.” She also reportedly said, “[Expletive] mayor, I’m going to kill him, read the e-mail, him and [expletive] Sheryl Armstrong went to the cops,” in addition to threatening to burn down McKay’s office and home.
The court documents claim Samra asked a city worker to access McKay’s computer “and demanded the code and engaged in aggressive conduct.”
Samra also allegedly approved “thousands of dollars of personal purchases, including car repairs, vacations and other expenses,” on former chief financial officer Victor Mema’s credit card, and made inquiries about firing city staff after they reported the actions. She is also alleged to have directed a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act officer not to disclose information that would be “harmful to [Samra’s] reputation” such as supplying credit card statements to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C.
The investigation found financial irregularities, according to court documents, including an “unauthorized” sum of approximately $24,000 paid to Mema in September 2017.
The city denied violating Samra’s contract or wrongfully dismissing her, stated the response, and the defendants stated they didn’t take part in “intentional infliction of mental suffering” on the plaintiff.
“Non-compliance with her employment duties and breach of her fiduciary duties and general duties of good faith, [loyalty] and honesty that she owed to the city constituted wilful disobedience, insubordination, and was an intentional breach of the employment agreement,” the court documents noted.
Samra also filed a complaint against the city, McKay and Armstrong with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The most recent hearing took place between July 27-29 and the next hearing is scheduled to take place between Oct. 24 and Nov. 2.
None of the claims alleged by Samra, McKay, Armstrong or the city have been proven in court.