The president of the BC Nurses Union has been placed on paid administrative leave following “numerous allegations,” the organization said Wednesday.
Umar Sheikh, the union’s CEO and executive director, said the allegations were brought forward against Gayle Duteil in June and continued into the fall. He would not discuss the nature or number of the complaints but said there were numerous allegations.
The allegations went to the to the BC Nurses Union (BCNU) council.
“As an employer, we placed her on an administrative leave pending an independent investigation,” Sheikh said.
According to Sheikh, the investigation is being conducted by two arbitrators: Vince Ready and Judi Korbin.
“I stress that these are only allegations at this point,” Sheikh said.
“What we are seeking to do is get the investigation, determine the facts and then we will consider next steps from there.”
BCNU also posted a release on their website calling the allegations “very serious.”
“The BCNU is committed to resolving these issues as soon as practically possible and working with Ms. Duteil to resolve these serious allegations in a manner that is in the best interest of the BCNU and Ms. Duteil,” the release said.
In a letter to nurses posted to Facebook on Wednesday, Gayle Duteil said she has not yet returned to work due to a complaint that was made in June. She went on medical leave in May to undergo treatment for breast cancer.
“I have been prohibited from attending at the union office or attending any union-sponsored events pending the investigation and resolution of these false allegations,” Duteil wrote in letter.
“Even though it has been over three months since the complaint was made, I have not been provided with the details of the complaint, or any explanation as to why I cannot attend union events, communicate with union staff, or perform my duties.”
However, Sheikh said the nature of the allegations has been shared with Duteil’s attorney.
Duteil said that she has filed complaints with the BC Labour Relations Board and the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
“I care deeply for my fellow nurses and I continue to be passionate about the work we do at the BCNU,” Duteil wrote.
“My role as president is extremely important to me, and I want to continue working on your behalf as your president. I feel that members of the executive and the executive director have made decisions that are not in the best interests of the union. It is for these reasons that I am pursuing legal proceedings.”
Sheikh said the BCNU will respond to the BC Labour Relations Board complaint. At this time, they have not been asked to respond to the BC Human Rights Tribunal complaint. Christine Sorensen will continue to be acting president until the matter is resolved.