November 26, 2012 (Vancouver, BC) Following several controversial flare ups that began to erupt over the Thanksgiving long weekend in October, and only days before Cycling BCs Annual General Meeting (AGM), Pedal has learned that a wrongful dismissal suit has been filed by Richard Wooles before the Supreme Court of BC against Cycling British Columbia (CBC) the provincial cycling association.
Wooles, the former Director of High Performance and the Provincial Head Coach, claims to have been let go from his position in October following a disagreement about how to allocate monies budgeted for High Performance programs.
This is obviously a sad chapter in what has otherwise been a brilliant story about Wooles who, in addition to developing cycling programs in BC has been working simultaneously as the Head Coach for the Canadian national track team where he built a strong national framework earning World Cup and World Championship medals as he headed up Canadas team at the London 2012 Olympic Games. His employment at Ottawa-based Cycling Canada is presumably unaffected by the dispute with Cycling BC.
Wooles claims that it was expressed or implied in his Employment Agreement that he was to manage the budgets of High Performance and also to direct the expenditure of monies he raised himself.
He claims that in September and October of this year he discovered that CBC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Keith Ryan had spent monies at his direction in a manner inconsistent with the purposes for which the funds had been raised and contrary to the budgets prepared by Wooles and previously approved by Ryan and the CBC. Wooles maintains that this misdirection of funds was contrary to assurances given by Ryan and left a budgetary shortfall which in turn would leave CBC with inadequate funds to pay for commitments made to the Provincial Cycling Team.
Wooles claim alleges that when he contacted Ryan about the matter on October 3, Ryan went into a tirade, using profanity and loud, abusive language. This led to Ryan telling Wooles that he was suspended, interventions from members of the Board of Directors, and by October 12, to an email to Wooles telling him that the relationship (between Wooles and CBC) could no longer continue. This was followed by a communication on October 26 informing Wooles of the termination of his contract.
According to the same filing, Wooles is accused by CBC of calling Ryan a liar and approaching the CBC board in an inappropriate manner, taking steps to undermine the CBCs board of directors and CEO, and allegedly approaching funding organizations. But Wooles lawyers maintain that even if such claims were all true, these would not constitute grounds for dismissal.
In addition to lost earnings in lieu of notice of termination, Wooles is seeking compensation for mental distress, loss of reputation, and aggravated and punitive damages. His base salary and commissions amounted to some $100,000 per annum.
It was Wooles initial suspension that sparked the outcry in BC that lead to the surge of interest in the AGM and other issues in the province. Pedal previously published an open letter by Barry Lyster, a BC bike shop owner, who called for the resignation of Ryan and of CBC President Wayne Pomario in connection with this affair. Todd Hansen, CBCs VP of Road [HTML_REMOVED] Track responded to Lysters letter as other stakeholders entered the discussion claiming reduced numbers of riders attending races, gender equality and rigid rules as other issues.
Meanwhile, CBC will be holding its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Dec. 2. The AGM was originally scheduled for October 20 but was postponed because of an unusually high number of people, upwards of 250, who expected to attend the event. The new hall can hold more than the 250 people, some four-to-five-times more than the number usually expected. The venue for Sundays AGM is the Cadet Building, at Abbotsford Exhibition Park. The meeting will be called to order at 1 pm.
The Wooles Affair is not explicitly mentioned on the days agenda, but will presumably be raised under new business.
Cycling BC 2012 AGM
Date: Sunday , December 2
Time: 1 p.m.