The North York Symphony’s former executive director Linda Rogers is suing members of the group’s board for $50,000 in unpaid wages and damages related to her final years of employment.
But is she suing the right people?
The case was filed with the Ontario Superior Court last summer and while 18 people are named as members of the North York Symphony Association, only two appear to have been served: Milos Krajny and Councillor John Filion, who claims he was never on the organization’s board.
“I never attended any board meeting,” Filion said Jan. 18. “I don’t believe I was ever on the board. I especially was not on the board by anyone’s account in the period when the employee (Linda Rogers) alleges they weren’t paid in 2008 and 2009.
“The whole issue has nothing to do with me,” he said.
In a default judgment the court ordered Filion and Krajny to pay Rogers a total of $34,336.37 plus $1,150 in costs plus two percent interest starting Nov. 22, 2010, according to court documents.
Filion has sought outside counsel to defend him against the judgment and the city’s Executive Committee has recommended that the taxpayers foot the bill for both him and councillor Maria Augimeri, who was named in the suit but has not yet been served.
The city has an indemnification policy to cover municipal politicians’ legal expenses including civil actions “resulting from the councillor performing the duties of a councillor.” But as Filion said he was never on the board the city’s insurance may not cover him.
Filion said the whole issue is like a Twilight Zone episode.
“If you are sued for being on a board you were never on, they (city) doesn’t cover your legal fees,” he said, which is why the matter is being debated.
City solicitor Anna Kinastowski explained that Filion was likely asked to be on the Symphony’s board, whether he actually was a member or not, because he’s a politician.
“He’s being approached because he’s a politician,” she said in a Jan. 18 interview. “The issue was did he in good faith act in his role as a councillor.”
If city council agrees at its Feb. 7–8 meeting to help the councillors fight this allegation the money would come from the council’s general expenses budget.
Rogers claims in the court documents that she worked for the symphony also known as the Toronto Philharmonia from about May 23, 2006 to her resignation on April 1, 2009.
Her annual salary was $45,000 plus a $5,000 bonus at the discretion of the board. Her role included fundraising for the symphony and the court documents state she obtained grants in the form of new funding to help put the symphony in the black.
Rogers was awarded a $5,000 bonus in the summer of 2007 but she agreed to the symphony’s request to postpone payment. She was paid her full salary in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, the symphony experienced severe financial difficulties and owed her money and she requested a periodic payment to clean up this back-pay, according to court filings. By November, 2008 she was reduced to part-time hours and agreed to accept a T-4 slip for 2008 stating she received $43,021.99 even though she was paid less.
By May 26, 2010 the documents state the Toronto Philharmonia advised her they did not have the ability to pay what they owed her, which she claims is $34,336.37 including the $5,000 bonus.
Rogers is seeking about $50,000 in damages including money specifically from Filion for his being an alleged member of the Symphony’s board.
Rogers’ lawyer James McDonald of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell told the Town Crier, “We are in negotiations with his (Filion’s) lawyer and the lawyer for the other (board) directors to see if the situation can be resolved.”
This is not the first time that Filion has been sued in connection with being a city councillor. In 2006 he and his assistant, Catholic school trustee Maria Rizzo, were sued by developer Berkley in conjunction with the plan to put two condo building on land formerly owned by Sisterhood of St. John the Divine at 1 Botham Rd.
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