Community Market organizer sues Downtown Penticton Association

A Penticton event organizer is suing her former employer for $25,000, accusing them of terminating her without cause.

Community Market organizer sues Downtown Penticton Association

A local event organizer is suing her former employer for $25,000, accusing them of terminating her without cause.

In October 2014, Laurel Burnham was dismissed from her position as manager of the Community Market, which is organized by the Downtown Penticton Association.

In a letter distributed to some market vendors, Burnham asks for their support in what she now views as a wrongful dismissal.

“It has gone from a supposedly simple ‘business decision’ to actions that my lawyer has categorized as bad faith, arrogant and malicious in the extreme,” writes Burnham in the letter.

Burnham refused to comment directly on her dismissal, but did say she felt she had been done a “tremendous injustice,” after serving the community for many years, noting that she has helped organize Canada Day celebrations for 20 years.

“I was bullied relentlessly. I stood up to bullying and that is what cost me my job. That is all the comment I am making,” said Burnham.

Kerri Milton, executive director of the DPA, also limited her comments. The DPA sponsors the Community Market, which runs alongside the Farmer’s Market, a separate organization.

“Due to the fact she has commenced litigation, we are not allowed to speak to it yet,” said Milton. “Once we got served with the court papers, we were told by both our insurance company and the defence team that we are not, at this moment, allowed to comment on it.”

Milton said the DPA was notified  on Jan. 23 about Burnham’s claim, which was filed in Penticton small claims court on Jan. 19.

In court documents obtained by the Western News Burnham claims she worked for the DPA under contract to organize the market, starting in July 2008, until May 2013, when she was hired for a full-time employee position as market manager.

Burnham’s claim does not relay the reason given for her termination, but only states it was not for just cause.

In the claim, Burnham files for $25,000 in damages, asking for punitive damages as well as general damages for lost income and benefits along with stress, anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment and financial distress.

Milton said the decision to terminate was not made by her, but by the DPA’s board of directors. Leigh Follestad, current president of the DPA, could not be reached for comment.

In her letter to vendors, Burnham states she would like to continue as market manager, but not under the current administration, who she feels have treated her “in a profoundly unfair and unjust manner.”

Burnham also contends, in her letter, that the matter needs to be resolved quickly to ensure the economic health of the entire community as well as the vendors and downtown merchants participating in the market.

Milton said the DPA will issue a statement at some point, but isn’t sure when that will happen.

“That is out of my hands, it has to come back from both the insurance and legal counsel,” said Milton. She also noted that the court has given the DPA two weeks to reply to Burnham’s claim or enter a countersuit.

Milton said the DPA is actively searching for a replacement and confirmed the market will be open as usual starting on May 2.

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.



Don't have an account? Click here to sign up
Pop-up banner image