The Penticton Pinnacles Football Club is hoping to settle legal action with former head coach Ezra Cremers once and for all next week, with a settlement conference planned for Feb. 2.
Cremers filed a small claims lawsuit last month alleging the football club wrongfully dismissed him and breached their contract, seeking $8,351.04 in restitution. But Pinnacles FC board of directors chair Tony Patrocino said he hopes the two parties can come to a solution at the settlement conference.
“We would like to get a fresh start, and we’ve got a new year coming, and we’d like to put that behind us and move on,” Patrocino said. “I believe that we will come to — hopefully — some resolution on Feb. 2 and move on.”
Cremers was originally hired by the South Okanagan Similkameen Youth Soccer Association, predecessor to the Pinnacles FC, in 2012, with contracts running to Aug. 31, 2017, with a new contract in Feb. 2016 had been signed Cremers on through to Aug. 31, 2022.
Pinnacles FC filed a response later in December, agreeing that the football club entered an agreement in Feb. 2016, but said that they had the right to dismiss Cremers immediately with written notice if he failed in his duties.
It claims the employment agreement contained a clause that said Cremers was not entitled to payment in the condition of a wrongful dismissal, also disputing Cremers’ claim he had performed all his duties.
“Various requests made by the board of the directors to the claimant were met with resistance and caused difficulties throughout the defendant’s organization,” the Pinnacles FC wrote in its response.
The football club claimed Cremers failed in his duties on four major issues, including managing parents, managing the operating budget, ensuring the teams had adequate coaching resources in place and “refusing to travel to tournaments with a team that did not have adequate coaching resources.”
The board of directors also denies “usurping” Cremers’ contractual duties.
“The claimant was not fulfilling his obligations, leaving the board no option to step in and make operational decisions in the best interests of the defendant.”
The football club’s response also took aim at Cremers for his claim of taking a medical leave from July 4 to Aug. 9 last year, saying it was “only when the defendant made an appointment to meet with the claimant to discuss his performance that the claimant cancelled the appointment and provided the defendant with a note from his doctor dated July 4, 2017 advising he would be off work for medical reasons for two weeks.”
But after the two-week medical leave, the football club claims Cremers went on vacation until Aug. 9 “without consulting the defendant as to the timing of the same,” and while he was away the board had to take on a role making decisions for the Pinnacles.
“The board made attempts to contact the claimant, however, he failed to respond or provide any input to the board, leaving them with no option but to make plans for the upcoming summer/fall programs on their own,” the response said.
Less than a week after returning from his vacation, the board claimed Cremers went to the Netherlands, an annual trip that was part of his employment, but the board became suspicious of that trip.
“It became clear to the board that the trip to Holland was essentially a further vacation for the claimant paid for by the defendant,” the response said.
But while Cremers claimed the board agreed in writing to his employment for three months during a transition period after his resignation from the football club on Aug. 30, the board said it only agreed verbally.
“It became clear that the claimant was still not performing the services required under the employment agreement, thereby requiring the board to take on numerous responsibilities that should have been performed by the claimant.”
The board said it told Cremers it did not need his services on Oct. 2 and provided remuneration up to Oct. 15.