Alvin Gibbs, the Montreal-area educator and CUPE 2718 member falsely accused in 2000 of sexually molesting the teens in his charge, has won another victory in court.
In her March 17 decision, Superior Court Judge Carole Julien quashed the arbitration award that prevented the educator from being paid retroactively for the period when he was falsely accused of sexual touching and not allowed to work. If the employer doesn’t appeal, the case will go back to the arbitrator, who will determine the amount owed Gibbs.
Gerry Joyce, a veteran CUPE representative, was delighted. “It’s been five years of hell for Alvin Gibbs,” he noted. “But it would seem that everything’s turned out fine now. Let’s hope the employer will show some common sense and decide not to appeal this fair and reasonable decision. Let’s also hope that Alvin will quickly be paid lost earnings and related damages suffered in this saga that has dragged on much too long.”
In 2000, Batshaw Youth and Family Centre clients filed complaints against Gibbs that resulted in his firing and in criminal charges being laid against him. At the end of a long and harrowing process, he was exonerated of any wrongdoing. Some of the youth recanted their testimony while others admitted that they had made false accusations in the hope of suing the centre for money.
In November 2003, an arbitrator overturned the firing. In 2004, the provincial court dismissed all charges and cleared the educator’s reputation. But his employer still refused to pay him what he was owed for the period between September 22, 2001 and June 1, 2004, claiming that he was not “available to work”. During this period, there was a court order against Gibbs forbidding him from showing up at work.
CUPE contested this interpretation, but lost the first round in arbitration. This was overturned in Superior Court, with the judge commenting that the arbitrator’s decision “offends the most basic sense of justice”.