PORT OF SPAIN –– Former Housing Development Corporation (HDC) managing director Jearlean John is suing the State agency for TT$17 million following her termination on March 22.
John, through her attorney Gerald Ramdeen, is seeking damages for wrongful dismissal and/or breach of contract of employment at the HDC and “all consequential loss suffered as a result of future employment prospects”.
Having served different prime ministers in varying capacities, John is also seeking “aggravated exemplary damages” for the HDC’s handling in her dismissal.
However, in a brief telephone interview Wednesday, hours after the lawsuit was filed, John said while she was guided by her attorneys, “I don’t think the figure is sufficient, given what I said about the damage to my life. What is the value to your life? Is it people’s life you are treating with?”
John said in life, many people, in a bid to pull themselves up, had to pull others down.
“You can’t allow people to have power over you and to end your life. I am a fighter and I would not give them that satisfaction,” John said.
The million-dollar lawsuit comes three weeks after John signalled her intention to beginlegal proceedings against the HDC and its chairman Newman George. During her tenure, John was responsible for the alignment of the operations at the HDC to allow it to achieve its strategic objective, as well as that of the State.
In her statement of case filed in the Port of Spain High Court Wednesday, John asked the HDC for TT$7.5 million for “loss of future employment opportunity”, TT$5 million for the manner in which she was dismissed and damage to her reputation, TT$2,352,000 for 24 months of salary and 24 months bonus pay pursuant to the settled practice of the defendant with respect to departing managing director — as was done in the case of Noel Garcia —TT $500,000 in exemplary damages and 20 per cent of gratuity of the value of the contract at TT$705,600.
The statement showed that had John remained on the job for the remaining eight-and-a-half months of her contract, she would have collected TT$1,420,000 from the HDC in salary and perks.
A breakdown of the statement showed that in the eight-and-a-half months, John would have earned TT$527,000 in salary, a housing allowance of TT$102,000, travelling allowance of TT$127,500, cellphone allowance of TT$17,000, land line allowance of $17,000, entertainment allowance of $42,500 and a $588,000 performance bonus.
John collected a monthly pay packet of $62,000, in addition to $36,000 in allowances every month. In all, she is seeking TT$17,477,600. On December 17, 2015, John was sent on administrative leave by the HDC board. However, on March 22 she was fired for “her reaction, demeanor, tone and manner of communicating with the board of directors.”
John began working at the HDC in November of 2009 on a contract which it had kept renewing.