Edmonton cop awarded $5,000 over lost promotion

Took time off after misunderstanding

An arbitrator ruled that an Edmonton police officer was unfairly treated during a promotion hearing, which resulted in the officer ending up on sick leave.

In 2014, William Mikaluk applied for a promotion from his current rank of constable to become a sergeant with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS). During stage three of a five-stage interview process, Mikaluk was informed by superintendent Brad Doucette that some facts on his submission were overstated and this meant he was now out of the running for the promotion.

Doucette said he was considering escalating the findings as an “Information to the Chief” report, which would alert the police chief that discipline against an officer was possible.

“The meeting with Doucette was devastating for Mikaluk. He viewed the allegation of misrepresentation and possible information to the chief as a charge that he had committed deceit,” Kanee  said. 

The misunderstanding stemm­ed from Mikaluk’s role as acting sergeant during the service’s implementation of its the Edmonton Police Reporting and Occurrence System (EPROS) project from January 2007 to June 2008.

During the interview process, Mikaluk represented his role as having supervisory powers, but Doucette felt this was incorrect. Mikaluk also referred to himself as a business manager of the project in his submission for promotion. 

One of the moderators during the stage-three interview was retired inspector John Ratcliff, who was the commanding officer for the EPROS project. 

“Ratcliff took objection to Mikaluk’s description of the scope of his role. He expressed the view that Mikaluk did not have as significant a role in the management of the project as his package suggested. Ratcliff said that Mikaluk was not managing the whole project — that was his job,” said arbitrator Lyle Kanee.

After the meeting, Ratcliff said he wanted to further investigate the role played by Mikaluk during the project before giving his final opinion.
Ratcliff spoke to another retired officer, Staff Sgt. Bill Newton, who concurred with Ratcliff’s assertion that Mikaluk overstated his importance to the EPROS project.

But the arbitrator took issue with the police officer’s assertion.

“Mikaluk actually replaced Newton on the EPROS project and so Newton never supervised Mikaluk on the project and would not have known what roles and responsibilities Mikaluk actually carried out on the project. Newton did not testify,” he said. 

After the meeting with Doucette, Mikaluk forwarded an email from Ratliff to two other police officers, copied to Mikaluk, back to Doucette that outlined his role with the EPROS project, which read in part, “Cst. Mikaluk will take on the role of A/Sgt. for the duration of his time on this project based on his supervisory role and project management expectations.”

He also sent Doucette a scanned copy of his business card at the time that identified him as business manager. 

Despite this, Doucette sent the “Information to the Chief” note and recommended Mikaluk not be disciplined but he called it a “rookie mistake” and was a misunderstanding, not an intent to deceit. 

After the meeting, Mikaluk became distraught, took time off work, first paid, then unpaid. He also withdrew his promotion application.

“Mikaluk similarly lost the opportunity to provide his explanation of what his role and responsibilities were in the EPROS project and to refute the flawed information provided by Ratcliff that he did not have a leadership or project management role. He lost the opportunity to defend his integrity and to have his candidacy considered without the taint of deceit. The loss of that opportunity to set the record straight and to defend his reputation, particularly before Ratcliff, for whom he had tremendous respect, caused Mikaluk distress and psychological harm that was foreseeable,” Kanee said.

Mikaluk was awarded $5,000 in general damages.

“The EPS breached its obligation to provide a fair, appropriate and unbiased promotion process. It relied upon flawed information about Mikaluk’s role and responsibilities in the Edmonton Police Reporting and Occurrence System (EPROS) project and upon suspicions that he deliberately misstated his role and responsibilities in his promotion package. At the very least, it should have provided him with the opportunity to respond to the contradictory information and suspicions about his integrity,” arbitrator Lyle Kanee said.

References: Edmonton Police Service And Edmonton Police Association. Lyle Kanee — Arbitrator. Geoffrey Hope and Dana Adams for the employer. PatrickNugent and Jacob Axelrod for the union. Aug. 2, 2016.

Latest stories