City executive gets fired after his salary report yields unpopular results

Director of HR wasn’t given a reason for his firing less than a month after CEO reacted angrily to his findings

The City of Kingston has been accused of wrongfully dismissing a high-level employee.

Bill Bishop, 55, was Kingston’s director of human resources from February 1995 until he was fired in August 2006. With the exception of a 40-day strike by city staff in 1999, his job performance was viewed as successful and he received the city’s highest rating in his most recent job evaluation.

In 2005, Kingston reorganized its staff and some city managers began complaining they had taken on more work for the same pay. Bishop was assigned by the city’s chief executive officer to compare salaries with those of other cities of similar size across Canada and to research a benefits package for city executives.

After he completed his research, on June 20, 2006, he briefed city council on the results and then later the CEO, who hadn’t been at the meeting. After discussing the findings, the CEO got angry and called the results “a slap in the face,” according to Bishop.

Bishop went on vacation in early July 2006, returning for a July 12 meeting with the CEO and the commissioner of finance and corporate performance. He expected the meeting would be to discuss staff raises based on his report, but instead they told him he could continue to work for the next week but he was being let go after that.

Bishop claims he wasn’t given a reason for his firing except that the city was going in another direction with its human resources department. He also says he had never been given any indication he wasn’t meeting expectations.

A few days later, Bishop asked the commissioner of finance, with whom he was friends, why he was fired, but she couldn’t give him a reason. On July 19, Bishop was officially let go with his termination effective as of August 2006.

Bishop filed a lawsuit in December 2006 asking for damages and reinstatement. It is expected to be heard by the Ontario Divisional court sometime in late 2007.

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