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HomeBusinessEx-VP sues airport authority after “wholly flawed” investigation led to unjust firing

Ex-VP sues airport authority after “wholly flawed” investigation led to unjust firing


Bob Mackin

A former Vancouver International Airport Authority vice-president says he was fired without cause after a flawed investigation of a whistleblower’s complaint.

Vancouver International Airport control tower (YVR)

Stephen Hankinson’s Sept. 3-filed wrongful dismissal lawsuit seeks a B.C. Supreme Court judgment against YVR for breach of contract. Hankinson, 57, alleges he was fired after YVR hired a lawyer to investigate a complaint against him. He denied any misconduct and called the investigation improper and “wholly flawed.”

According to his lawsuit, YVR acted in bad faith and refused to provide him a copy of the investigation results. His July 5 termination letter included a list of alleged breaches.

Hankinson claimed he “provided effective and faithful service” to YVR since 2007.

“The manner of the plaintiff’s dismissal was unduly insensitive, callous, and exhibited bad faith by the defendant,” said Hankinson’s statement of claim. “The manner of dismissal has caused the plaintiff medical and other damage that will be proven at trial.”

Hankinson’s statement of claim said he advised the airport-hired lawyer that he had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following an emergency on an aircraft. The court document said that he told YVR and the lawyer that if he had made any mistakes at work, then any such mistakes could have been the result of the PTSD. Hankinson’s lawsuit said YVR and the investigator “failed to consider the PTSD as a mitigating circumstance.”

Stephen Hankinson (YVR)

The lawsuit does not disclose what kind of mistakes were made. Hankinson has been unable to find comparable employment elsewhere. None of the allegations has been proven in court and YVR has yet to file a statement of defence.

From 2011 to 2018, Hankinson was the vice-president of operations and maintenance until Robyn McVicker was promoted from director of marketing. He spent the last year as vice-president of planning and innovation.

The lawsuit offers a rare glimpse into the high executive compensation paid at the secretive airport authority, which is a not-for-profit company without shareholders that manages YVR on a lease from Transport Canada.

Hankinson’s annual base salary was $267,300, plus annual short-term incentive up to $120,285 and annual long-term incentive up to $147,000. He also received $9,900-a-year for a car allowance plus insurance and fuel payments, employer RRSP/pension contributions and employer payment of MSP premiums.

Hankinson reported a total $494,745.02 compensation from YVR on his 2018 tax return.

Hankinson’s firing came a week-and-a-half before the airport authority launched a social media campaign to draft Vancouver actor Ryan “Deadpool” Reynolds as the airport spokesman.

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