The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) could be facing a lawsuit over its dismissal of Head of Security Ian McIntosh.
McIntosh, who received his termination letter last Wednesday indicating he was being let go for underperformance, among other concerns, told Barbados TODAY his attorney was in the process of drafting a letter to the QEH objecting to its decision.
“We will send an appeal to them and await their decision, and according to what their decision is we will move forward with a lawsuit,” he said.
McIntosh is also being advised by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW). Although confirming that the union was aware McIntosh was seeking legal counsel in the matter, NUPW General Secretary Wayne Walrond said he “could not comment on the matter at this point in time”.
McIntosh told Barbados TODAY that while carrying out his daily duties on August 3, three weeks shy of his one-year anniversary in the position, he was called into a meeting and notified that he was being terminated with immediate effect.
He said he found it puzzling that a worker who had a “stellar” appraisal could be sacked for the reasons outlined in his termination paper.
According to the letter, which was dated August 3 and signed by the QEH’s executive chairman Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, the termination of services came on the heels of “issues associated with the allocation of overtime, rostering of staff and unauthorised changes of duties for staff within the Security Department”.
“The Board has determined that it has lost confidence in your continued ability to discharge your engagement as Head of Security. The Board has also noted that as a certified trainer in the field of security you have failed to provide the requisite training to the security team to improve the effectiveness of this recently established department,” the correspondence added.
McIntosh was granted one month’s salary in lieu of notice from the date of receipt of the letter; salary for the August 1-30, 2022 period; and $14 211.60 for the 24 days vacation leave due to him. The termination letter added that he would receive all his benefits in relation to any outstanding monies owed to him.
“All of this is startling to me. Tell me what was so egregious that you are going to terminate my services?” McIntosh questioned. “Furthermore, I had a stellar probationary appraisal [for August 30, 2021 to February 28, 2022].
“Tell me what I have done, you never wrote anything adverse on me, and then you are going to come and tell me you have no confidence in me? I am 53 years old, I cannot let that stand; and you’re going to offer me $14 000 and tell me go through the door? What can that do for me? I have a mortgage to pay,” he further argued.
The former head of security said there was no indication by his superiors that he had stepped out of line, was underperforming, or that there were any adverse reports made against him.
In his interview with Barbados TODAY, he responded to the issues raised in the termination letter.
McIntosh explained that he was in command of 68 officers – including one senior security supervisor, four supervisors and 63 line staff – and had oversight of the QEH, the Harrison Point Isolation Facility and any other QEH satellite facilities.
He said his department had a staff shortage, with ten to 15 people not on the job on any given day for various reasons, such as COVID-19 leave, vacation, administrative leave, or jury duty.
According to him, while there was a need to expand the staff complement, budgetary constraints had prevented any additional workers from being hired.
As a result, he said, overtime was a feasible way of addressing the situation and such requests were authorised by his superiors “to buffer the shifts”.
However, when the new QEH Board was established in May this year following the general elections in January, McIntosh said there was a departmental meeting with the new chief operations officer that he was not privy to. He said that a later meeting was held with him to discuss staff grievances, and rostering was one of the issues that came up. However, he said, with approval from the new chief operations officer, the rosters were changed.
McIntosh, who is also an assessor and internal verifier for the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council, said it was not in his job description to train workers but he had put forward a proposal to the Human Resources Department to do so at the beginning of every month for two weeks, with the aim of raising the standards in his department.
“How can I do training when I was scrambling for people every single day? Last year was a heightened COVID-19 period. How could I train with people on various leaves?” he questioned.
The ex-policeman added that he was only aware of one minor incident in which he gave a line worker an instruction that, unknowingly to him, contradicted what that worker’s supervisor had commanded. However, he said, the matter was discussed with his superiors and dealt with.
McIntosh said his employment was terminated three weeks before he could complete one year of service and before the Employment Rights Act would take effect.
However, he said: “I still got to redress. I also went to my lawyer. I went to the union and I was asked to write an appeal letter.” (SZB)