The Ville de Lachute, two intermunicipal service agencies, and two former municipal employees have reached a settlement, after an administrative tribunal ruled they were improperly dismissed.

In January 2015, the town terminated the employment of then-Director-General Pierre Gionet and Secretary-Treasurer Nathalie Piret.  Gionet was also the Secretary-Treasurer of the Régie intermunicipale Argenteuil-Deux Montagnes (RIADM) and the Régie d’assainissement des eaux usées de Chatham/Lachute (RAEUCL), which regulate shared services between municipalities. Piret was also responsible for the finances of the RIADM and RAEUCL.

The dismissals resulted from a relationship between the two administrators that council believed was negatively affecting the functions of the municipality and the two intermunicipal organizations. Concerns arose over alleged problems with general staff relations, the use of vacation time, and the alleged use of public funds for expenses, including vehicle repairs and hotel rooms.

On June 25, 2020, Administrative Judge Anick Chainey of the Tribunal administratif du travail (TAT) ruled there was no sufficient proof of mismanagement or actions which could irreparably harm the credibility of the municipality and the two agencies. Chainey ordered that both Piret and Gionet be reinstated to their positions with the town of Lachute and the related agencies within eight days.

However, Lachute council decided on July 2, 2020, to challenge the tribunal’s decision in Superior Court.  On December 15, 2020, Judge Stéphane Lacoste ruled against granting a stay of the reinstatement order issued by the TAT.

Lachute, RIADM, and RAEUCL have now reached an agreement that has ended the legal proceedings.

According to Lachute Mayor Carl Péloquin, each party had to sign the agreement and it then had to be accepted by a TAT judge.

According to a statement issued by the Ville de Lachute, RIADM, and RAEUCL, the TAT ruling stated that Gionet and Piret were entitled to claim all appropriate remedies, including those for damage to their reputation.

Under the agreement, all resolutions adopted by Lachute council, RIADM, and RAEUCL will be rescinded so that there will be no blame, reprimand, or sanction on Gionet and Piret’s employment files. It was also agreed that Gionet and Piret will not seek reinstatement of their employment with the town or the two intermunicipal agencies.

At a special Lachute council meeting held on May 5, a regulation was adopted authorizing $2,235,767 in expenses “for the purpose of paying sums due under the decision of the Tribunal administrative du travail.” The regulation also authorized the town to borrow $1,900,000 in relation to the expenses.

“This is to regulate the agreement with the two former employees, Mr. Gionet and Ms. Piret,” Péloquin told council.

In the statement, the Ville de Lachute, RIADM, and RAEUCL wished Gionet and Piret the best of luck in their future professional endeavours.

Further comments in the statement explain that Piret and Gionet wish to thank all those who never doubted their professionalism and integrity. They hope the decisions rendered in their favour, the repeal of the resolutions of dismissal, and the correction of their employment records will counteract all the negative press they have been subjected to since 2015.