The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has settled its legal dispute with former president Yolen Bollo-Kamara. The UTSU announced in a joint statement with Bollo-Kamara that it is no longer pursuing the lawsuit against her, and that a settlement had been reached.
The UTSU’s Board of Directors approved the settlement on January 23. The settlement includes an affidavit from Bollo-Kamara, the contents of which are sealed. The joint statement, however, reveals some of the information from the affidavit.
According to the statement, Bollo-Kamara had sworn under oath that she “did not receive a financial benefit relating to the payment of Ms. [Sandra] Hudson.” The statement also claims that because of Bollo-Kamara’s close relationship with Hudson, Hudson was able to convince Bollo-Kamara — who is responsible for signing the cheques — that she was entitled to the payments. Furthermore, Hudson allegedly told Bollo-Kamara that she had sought legal advice on the Termination Agreement and other documents from DLA Piper, to which DLA Piper has denied.
“Therefore, from the position of the UTSU, Ms. Bollo-Kamara was following the direction of Ms. Hudson who she believed had property authority and had consulted legal counsel,” read a portion of the statement.
The terms of the settlement remain confidential. Whether any money was involved in the settlement remains unconfirmed. Bollo-Kamara’s legal counsel did not respond to The Varsity’s requests for comment.
In September 2015, The Varsity reported that the UTSU had initiated a lawsuit against its former executive director Sandra Hudson and former vice president, internal and services, Cameron Wathey, in addition to Bollo-Kamara.
The UTSU’s statement of claim alleges that in the time leading up to Hudson’s departure, Bollo-Kamara and Wathey fraudulently authorized 2,589.5 hours of overtime pay for Hudson, bringing the total of her severance package to $247,726.40, which roughly reflects 10 per cent of the union’s operating budget. This is despite the fact that Hudson had never claimed any overtime hours in the time that she had worked for the union.
Bollo-Kamara and Wathey filed their notices to defend in October
In December 2015, Hudson moved to countersue the union for $300,000 in damages. Hudson claimed that the overtime payouts were standard practice and that she had frequently worked long hours despite not filing for overtime. She also alleged that the new executive would have created a hostile environment for her and that the UTSU violated the non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses of the termination. The UTSU has denied these allegations.
Coleman confirmed that the proceedings against Wathey and Hudson are ongoing. He told The Varsity that he wants to see the money returned and that the union prefers a non-court resolution by means of arbitration or mediation.
“It’s really just about the resources that the UTSU had that left the door,” said Coleman. “So, ideally, we’d like it resolved in an amicable way.”