Yellowknife’s Folk on the Rocks facing legal action

Folk on the Rocks 2015
Main stage at Folk on the Rocks 2015. (Photo by MyTrueNorthNow.com staff.)
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A former executive director of Folk on the Rocks plans to take legal action against the organization for wrongful dismissal.

David Whitelock left Folk on the Rocks last month having overseen two years of Yellowknife’s annual summer music festival, both of which made substantial losses.

At the time of announcing his departure, the festival made no reference to reasons behind the move.

However, in a statement sent to media on Sunday, Whitelock claimed he was terminated without cause.

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“On the afternoon of December 29, while off work on medically approved sick leave, I was served at my home with a termination notice,” Whitelock said in his statement.

“The letter purported to terminate my employment for cause. Certain of the grounds set out in the letter are fictitious. Others lack any type of detail. Others were presented to me without affording me either an opportunity to correct or to respond.”

Background: Folk on the Rocks on the rocks as executive director leaves

Whitelock claims he has yet to be paid his December 2015 salary, some holiday pay and a bonus.

“I have had no indication from Folk on the Rocks that I am going to be paid any of these amounts,” he continued. “I am advised that I am entitled to be paid until the end of my contract, January 2017.

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“The behaviour of Folk on the Rocks, in my opinion, constitutes wrongful dismissal. It is also, in my opinion, a breach of the Employment Standards Act and the Human Rights Act.

“I intend to pursue all legal avenues open to me with respect both to monies owed to me up to the time of my termination, and damages as a result of the conduct of Folk on the Rocks.”

Ryan Fequet, president of Folk on the Rocks, told Edge YK: “We’re trying to work with Whitelock to ensure his departure is positive for both parties.”

Folk on the Rocks lost more than $100,000 in 2014 and over $50,000 a year later. A combination of lost grant funding and increased administration and performer costs offset revenue gains from increased ticket prices.

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