Lawsuit Contends that Sunshine Village Owner’s Son Prompted Ski Patrol Firings

Banff (AB), Canada – Several senior employees fired this winter at Sunshine Village ski resort in Banff last week filed a lawsuit against their former employer, contending that the turmoil started after the ski area owner’s son was caught skiing in a closed area.nThe wrongful dismissal suit was filed by four former Sunshine Village employees: Chris Chevalier, 50, the mountain and risk manager with 27 years working at the resort; Rowan Harper, 45, the snow safety supervisor who started at Sunshine Village in 1985; Chris Conway, 51, a senior ski patroller; and Ben Chevalier, 25, the resort’s supervisor of lift operations. Named as defendants are the ski resort and Thomas Taylor Scurfield, son of owner Ralph D. Scurfield.

The statement of claim, analogous to the complaint in a U.S. lawsuit, contends that on Dec. 17, 2010 the younger Scurfield was found skiing with four others in a closed area on the mountain. When confronted, Scurfield is alleged to have indicated that mountain closures don’t apply to him and that he’s entitled to ski wherever he likes. He further threatened retaliation against the ski patrollers at the scene, according to the court documents.

The same documents indicate that on Dec. 29, each of the four defendants were called to the resort’s management office and terminated. All but the younger Chevalier contend that they were specifically questioned about the Dec. 17 incident before being dismissed.

In response to the firings, Sunshine Village ski patrollers staged a sick-out on Jan. 19, forcing the closure of all but three of the resort’s dozen lifts. Two more patrollers were sacked in the days following the labor action.

The plaintiffs are seeking more than C$400,000 in damages. The defendants have yet to file their response to the allegations contained within the plaintiffs’ statement of claim.

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