Hells Angels sue former mining boss for wrongful dismissal

Hells Angels sue former mining boss for wrongful dismissal

 

Three mine workers who lost their jobs because of their membership in the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club are suing their former boss and others for wrongful dismissal.

Photograph by: Tyler Brownbridge , The Windsor Star

 

Three mine workers who lost their jobs because of their membership in the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club are suing their former boss and others for wrongful dismissal.

Dean Brent Bell, Larry Booth and Graham Scott Fedoruk suffered emotional distress, insomnia, anxiety and depression when they were dismissed in a "callous and humiliating manner," according to their statement of claim, filed Friday in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench.

They request unspecified compensation, including "moral damages."

Their lawyers, Gary Caroline and Joanna Gislason of Vancouver, were not available for comment.

None of the allegations contained in the statement of claim have been proven in court. Each of the named defendants - Xtreme Mining, its owner Leonard Banga and the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. - has one month to file a statement of defence.

In an interview Wednesday, Banga remained defiant.

"There is no basis to this claim at all. I've done everything by the book," he said. Banga alleges the Hells Angels made death threats, assaulted him and other staff and brought a restricted firearm to the workplace. He said he has witnesses, documentation and other proof of numerous incidents.

"This will all come out if they force me into court. I will have no problem proving I had just cause (for the firing)," he said.

PotashCorp senior director of public affairs Bill Johnson said the claims "are completely without merit." He said PotashCorp will definitely file a statement of defence.

"We place a priority on providing a workplace that is safe, productive and respectful," Johnson said. Last year, Banga instituted a new policy banning all members of criminal organizations from working at Xtreme. Banga admitted he'd knowingly hired Hells Angels over the years, and remained friends with many of them. However, he said numerous incidents of violence and intimidation forced him to make the move to ensure a safe workplace.

"I'm sure some of them are gonna be a bit crusty, but I can't have that going on here," Banga said in an interview last August.

Banga was lauded by an internationally recognized expert on the Hells Angels.

"Wow. This man is a true leader," Yves Lavigne, author of Hells Angels at War, said at the time. "He is doing something no other business has in this country." Lavigne said companies should have the right to bar Hells Angels and other people they see as a safety risk. The fact Xtreme workers deal with high-powered explosives makes it even more vital, he said.

Speaking last year through Saskatoon lawyer Morris Bodnar, Hells Angels members denied they are a criminal organization, and said the new policy was unfair.

Now, three are suing Banga for firing them, as well as PotashCorp for denying them access to mine sites.

Banga showed a wanton disregard for their "dignity, feelings and well-being," the claim states.

The men say they were promised full-time, permanent employment with benefits. By dismissing them, and making derogatory public statements about Hells Angels working at Xtreme, Banga has made them unemployable, the claim alleges.

The men say they had exemplary employment records. Each earned a gross income of approximately $10,000 per month, as well as health, dental and other benefits. Bell, who has prostate cancer, says Banga convinced him to sell his motorcycle shop to work for him.

"The malicious, highhanded and callous conduct of Mr. Banga displayed a wanton disregard for the Plaintiff 's rights," the claim states. "Such conduct warrants an award of punitive and exemplary damages."

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