A former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who was appointed by the last Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Cabinet to manage the Hilton Barbados Resort Hotel, is suing his former employers over his dismissal in April this year.
Henderson Williams, who also unsuccessfully contested the City seat for the DLP in the May 2018 General Elections, appeared today in the High Court with his attorneys Neil Marshall and Hal Gollop Q.C., but the hearing was adjourned until January 30 because of a no-show by the Government team.
According to court documents filed on November 13, this year – copies of which have been obtained by Barbados TODAY – Williams is suing Needham’s Point Holdings Limited, the first defendant and Needham’s Point Development Inc., the second, on 11 grounds.
But the document first placed the history of the termination into perspective as the claimant sought to show how the actions of the defendants led to him suing the State.
It claimed that by letter dated March 4, 2019, Williams was suspended with immediate effect pending disciplinary investigation into undisclosed “alleged conduct”.
However, by letter dated April 30, 2019 and hand delivered by a messenger of the company, Williams was informed that his employment had been terminated with immediate effect for reasons of gross misconduct. The letter also told him he had the right to appeal, which he did.
And by correspondence dated July 26, 2019, the appellate body of the board confirmed his dismissal.
Williams is condemning the actions of the directors from March 4, 2019 to April 30, 2019 stating that the same people who charged him, were the same ones who suspended him, investigated him, adjudicated the hearing into the complaint as a disciplinary tribunal, found the charge to be proved and then fired him.
He is therefore asking the court to rule that these actions amounted to an administrative act or omission that is unauthorized or contrary to law; an excess of jurisdiction and a breach of the principles of natural justice.
The claimant’s request for a judicial review is also grounded in what he said is a failure by the company to satisfy or observe conditions or procedures required by law; that the defendants’ action was unreasonable, irregular and an improper exercise of discretion; and an abuse of power.
Williams also claims that the company committed an act of fraud and bad faith actuated by improper purposes and irrelevant considerations.
He sought to back up his claim of fraud in his affidavit filed in the High Court. Williams noted that on or about October 26, 2018 he had an unscheduled meeting at his office with company chairman Junior Waldron and his deputy Alfredo Weatherhead.
The claimant stated that he was given two letters from the chairman addressed to him; one which was unsigned and dated October 26, 2018 with the caption “Termination of contract of employment as chief executive officer of Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd and Needham’s Point Development Inc”.
The affidavit went on to say that the correspondence purported to have acknowledged and accepted “your letter of resignation dated October 26, 2018” and wished him continued success in his future endeavours.
The second letter, also unsigned and dated the same date, purported to be written by Williams and addressed to the chairman, tendering his resignation as CEO of Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd and Needham’s Point Development Inc ‘with immediate effect’.
“At no time did I ever write a letter of resignation to the first or second defendant and neither did I ever have a conversation with the chairman or any other person related to the first and second defendants concerning any possibility of my resignation from the employment of the first and second defendant,” the claimant said in his affidavit.
He submitted to the court that “the unlawful actions of the first and second defendants left me financially embarrassed to the extent that, not only am I unable to satisfy my creditors, but I had been unable to properly retain legal counsel for the purpose of filing an earlier claim in this matter.”
He revealed that since his termination he attended two interviews for employment and on both occasions the issue of his political affiliation, his past employment with the hotel company and the circumstances surrounding his departure have been raised as problems.
“The issue of my political affiliation, exposure and involvement in the last General Election was given by one of my interviewers as the distinct reason for denying me an employment opportunity,” the unsuccessful DLP candidate stated in his affidavit.
“I am of the view that despite my best efforts, given the current economic environment and the circumstances as they relate to my political affiliations, that I am unlikely to find gainful employment commensurate with my qualifications in Barbados in the near future,” Williams submitted in his court documents.
He is therefore asking the court for relief in the form of damages, costs, and orders and declarations to quash the decisions of the company to fire him.