A court battle is in the making between sacked employee of the state-controlled Financial Complex Ltd, Ronald Straker and some of his political colleagues including Public Relations Officer of the governing New National Party (NNP) administration, Terry Forrester.
Straker has instituted legal proceedings against the Financial Complex over his dismissal from his $4000.00 a month job as Maintenance Manager.
In legal papers filed in the Supreme Court Registry, Straker said that Forrester informed him that he had been instructed by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell “to terminate your services at the end of February (2014) from the Financial Complex.
Local Attorney-at-law, Anselm Clouden has been retained by Straker, a former executive member of NNP which won all 15 seats in general elections held just over a year ago.
The Financial Complex Ltd was created by the State to look after the operations of the Financial Complex on the Carenage and some other government buildings to help reduce cost to government facilities.
Court documents obtained by THE NEW TODAY indicate that Straker is seeking “Special Damages in the sum of $85, 000.00” from the Financial Complex for wrongful dismissal.
It is the first major fall-out since the February 19, 2013 victory at the polls by NNP among its major political operatives.
According to the legal documents filed in the Registry, Straker started work on October 1, 2013 at the head office of the Financial Complex on Lowther’s Lane under the terms of a 2-year contract.
On December 4, 2013, Straker reportedly submitted a sick leave from a medical doctor and left the island two days later for the United States to seek medical attention.
He returned to the island on January 3, 2014 and resumed his duties as a staffer of the Complex.
The court records showed that on January 27, 2014, Straker received a letter from the newly installed manager of the Financial Complex, Kenneth “Smallies” Noel asking him to submit a copy of his Medical Report to Management.
Straker reported sought legal advice and was told by his lawyers not to heed the request.
The court documents said: “On the 19th February, 2014, the Claimant (Straker) was summoned to a meeting at the Defendant’s premises in Lowther’s Lane with the Chairman of the Defendant’s Board, Terrence Forrester and the Manager, Kenneth Noel. In what was a brief meeting, the Claimant was summarily and immediately dismissed from his employment. No termination letter was even given.
“The Claimant was merely paid one month’s salary in lieu of notice together with allowance and accrued vacation leave. The Defendant, by the conduct of the Chairman aforesaid, evinced an intention to wrongfully and in repudiatory breach of the said Agreement, terminate the Claimant’s employment and, in effect, wrongfully dismissed the Claimant therefrom.
“In any event, the Chairman had no relevant legal authority to dismiss the Claimant from his employment. “… No proper or valid reason was given by the Chairman for terminating the Claimant’s Contract of Employment, other than the Chairman stated that he was “instructed by the Prime Minister to terminate your services at the end of February”.
“The Claimant avers that his dismissal by the Defendant was unfair, their being no valid reason for such termination connected with the capacity or conduct of the Claimant or the operational requirements of the Company, or even connected to any breach of contract by the claimant or disciplinary rules, being in any event, inconsistent with the provisions of the Employment Act.
“Further, the claimant contends that his dismissal and the manner thereof was unreasonable, unjustifiable and wrongful and high-handed, in that, no conduct warranting summary dismissal was event alleged against him.
When contacted on Wednesday, Forrester admitted that action had to be taken against Straker based on “various offers that he made to certain people” that were discovered while in the employ of the Financial Complex.
However, Forrester denied telling Straker that the instructions to sack him came from Prime Minister Mitchell.
He spoke of Straker taking the matter of his dismissal to the Grenadian leader as the line Minister for the Financial Complex and Dr. Mitchell telling him that he did not wish to get involved since it was an issue to be dealt with entirely by the Board of Directors of the Complex
Forrester warned that if Straker decided to pursue legal action against the Financial Complex then the governing board might be forced to release certain information in order to clear the air on a number of issues surrounding Straker’s actions.
He said “the hard evidence can lead to criminal proceedings” against the dismissed employee but he hoped that common sense will prevail on the part of Straker since he did not want the matter to reach that far.
“It will be in Straker’s best interest not to pursue with this legal matter. He better be careful. I say no more. It is in his best interest not to proceed with what he is doing. I will not just dismiss a man callously like that”, he added.