Close up of London Fire truck

Deputy Fire Chief Brian McLaughlin has been off the job for almost a year but is still getting paid. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Deputy fire chief accused of harassment still has his job, being paid $168K

A year and a half after an investigation was launched into the conduct of a deputy fire chief, he remains off the job while collecting his $160,000 annual salary.

City hall launched an investigation into the conduct of Deputy Fire Chief Brian McLaughlin in November 2016.

In April 2017, McLaughlin was seen leaving a fire hall. Sources tell CBC News he hasn’t been back since.

McLaughlin is the deputy fire chief of fire prevention. He’s still making more than $160,000 a year — $168,000 if you count benefits, according to the province’s Sunshine List.

Just what is going on with McLaughlin is a mystery because the matter is confidential.

“I cannot comment and the corporation (of the city of London) cannot comment about personnel matters in the media,” said Acting Deputy Fire Chief Jack Burt, who is filling in for McLaughlin.

Burt took over the position in an acting role in July 2017.

City hall’s labour relations specialist Sandra Crawford told CBC News the same thing, referring questions to city manager Martin Hayward.

Hayward has not yet returned calls to CBC News.

‘Culture of fear’
The mystery surrounding McLaughlin’s status in the fire department is a symptom of a ‘culture of fear’ there, one firefighter with more than 10 years experience said.

“We have five employees on stress leave, three people took early retirement,” said the firefighter, who didn’t want to give his name for fear of retribution. “It’s a toxic work environment. In fact, it’s beyond toxic.”

Coun. Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the city’s Community and Protective Services Committee, which oversees the fire department, also said she can’t comment about McLaughlin’s case.

“When these kinds of things drag on for this length of time, it’s not good for either party,” Cassidy said. “It’s not good for the complainant, it’s not good for the person who has been accused. It is in everybody’s best interest  for it to be resolved as quickly as possible.”

The union that represents firefighters, the London Professional Fire Fighters Association, said it stands by its members to stop workplace harassment.

Attempts to reach McLaughlin were unsuccessful.

Source: Deputy fire chief accused of harassment still has his job, being paid $168K – London – CBC News