Rail conductor involved in Banff crash fired again for social media posts

A Canadian Pacific Railway conductor who was fired following a 2014 derailment in Banff and later reinstated has been dismissed again — this time over social media posts that included several sexy modelling photos.

Stephanie Katelnikoff says she received a letter from her employer last fall attached to a package of screen grabs from her social media accounts and was told to report to the railway’s Calgary office for a formal investigation.

“This investigation is in connection with conduct and actions on Instagram and Facebook and other social media accounts, and the content of and compliance of those postings with company policies,” read the letter.

Some of the photos in the package, which Katelnikoff provided to The Canadian Press, show her in cutoff jean shorts and a midriff-bearing top posing on railway tracks. Others are nudes of her shot from behind or the side, or of her in lingerie.

The investigation package also had online comments that included a 2016 Facebook post under the name Steph Kat that calls the railway’s code of ethics a “short fictional comedy.”

Another profile under the name Stevie Rae says: “Resumé: Google Banff train crash,” followed by a laughing emoji.

“I was shocked at the length they went to in investigating my personal social media accounts and my off-duty activity,” Katelnikoff told The Canadian Press.

“I can’t imagine how long somebody spent combing through absolutely every little bit and piece of my social media.”

Katelnikoff, 28, said most of her Facebook feed actually pertains to her charity work. She said modelling is a fun hobby that has allowed her to channel her creativity and boost her self-esteem.

“I just can’t see how that affects my employability,” she said.

On Boxing Day in 2014, a train Katelnikoff was conducting derailed, sending 15 cars off the tracks in Banff, Alta. A product used to make concrete called fly ash, as well as soybeans, spilled into a creek. The Transportation Safety Board determined that a broken piece of track caused the crash.

Katelnikoff had some respiratory symptoms from breathing in the ash, but no one was otherwise injured. She was fired a month later and the company said it was because she violated rules around injury reporting and protecting an accident scene.

She had been on the job less than six months and later criticized the training she received in the press.

In February of 2016, arbitrator Maureen Flynn found in Katelnikoff’s favour, saying the company’s grounds for termination were “discriminatory” and in “bad faith.”

Katelnikoff said the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference is grieving her most recent dismissal. The union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Katelnikoff said her flippant online comments were a healthy way to process what she went through.

“It was a traumatic event and I used humour as a coping mechanism. I don’t think you can fault a girl for doing that,” she said.

The investigation package also mentioned a YouTube video critical of CP Rail, which the company said showed “gross insubordination and insolence.” Katelnikoff admits the delivery may not have been appropriate, but stands by her messages regarding the company’s approach to safety and human rights.

CP spokesman Jeremy Berry said the company would not comment on an individual case.

“All unionized train and engine employees are subject to the same rules and regulations and there is a standardized grievance process in place to deal with individual personnel decisions,” he wrote in an email.

Katelnikoff, who is doing some health and safety consulting work on her own now, said she’s not sure she would return to the railway if given the chance.

“The job itself and my brothers and sisters out on the rails are wonderful and I really truly enjoy that part of it.”

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