Lawsuit against coordinator will have ‘no impact’ on clubs

Termination of University of Toronto Students’ Union executive director sparks legal dispute

Image of University College at the University of Toronto St George Campus

University College at the University of Toronto St George Campus | Photo: City of Toronto CC 2.0

Cameron Wathey is one of three defendants being sued by the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). But people who work with him say he’s doing an excellent job as the new clubs coordinator at George Brown.

“He has been amazing,” said Rachel Grace, the Student Association’s (SA) director of campus life. “Cameron hit the ground running when he started here in September. He just jumped right in (and) he was an incredible huge help with the Week of Welcome.”

Wathey was UTSU’s vice-president, internal and services from 2013 to 2015. The other defendants in the lawsuit include former UTSU president Yolen Bollo-Kamara and former executive director Sandra Hudson.

According to the claim, which has not been proven in court, two weeks before the end of their terms, Bollo-Kamara and Wathey signed a termination agreement with Hudson that provided her with a total lump sum payment totaling $247,726.

The unproven statement of claim, which was first reported by The Varsity, said UTSU executive members had never previously expressed dissatisfaction with Hudson and there was “no plausible explanation for terminating her contract without cause.”

In addition to the notice and severance payments in the termination agreement, the lawsuit alleges that Bollo-Kamara and Wathey made no attempt to investigate Hudson’s “suspicious, sudden, and massive claim for unpaid wages” in the form of 1974.5 overtime hours recorded by Hudson in a single entry on April 1, 2015.

“The allegations against our client contained in the statement of claim are without merit,” said Bollo-Kamara’s lawyer Jeff Van Bakel in an email to The Dialog. “This action will be vigorously defended and our client looks forward to being vindicated through the court process.”

Hudson declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by The Dialog. Wathey did not respond to emails requesting comment.

“The SA does not see the need to address this issue at this time,” said the SA’s interim executive director Lorrainne Gajadharsingh by email. “Together, with the college, we are trusting the legal system to deal with this matter.”

Gajadharsingh said that she has confidence in Wathey’s ability to contribute to the SA noting that the number of clubs has tripled from 8 to 35 since he started.

As the clubs coordinator position is jointly funded by George Brown and the SA Wathey also reports to the college’s department of student life.

Gerard Hayes, the director of student experience at the college, agrees that Wathey had an excellent start. “Certainly we’re happy with how he handled the clubs fair recently. We had a great turnout of students, he did great advertising for it (and he) understood his role in it.”

As outlined in the SA Clubs Policies, a club must submit a request with receipts, invoices or valid written estimates to the clubs coordinator to receive funds. The cheque must be co-signed by a full-time staff and one student executive who are signing officers.

“Clubs can rest assured that it (the lawsuit) will have no impact on clubs experience or the life of clubs,” said Grace.

According to Hayes, the college has no plans to address the allegations at this time. “We’re working with the SA and as we find out more information and if it does impact his role or his job then we’ll certainly be there to do our own investigation if needed.”

The SA’s manager of equity and advocacy Rosalyn Miller did not respond to requests for comment from The Dialog ​by press time.

The defendants have 20 days to file a statement of defense, following the statement of claim being served. Bollo-Kamara filed a notice of intent to defend on Oct. 15.

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Lawsuit against coordinator will have ‘no impact’ on clubs