~ Dissolution request not repealed ~
PHILIPSBURG–It seems as though the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) will have to fork out thousands of guilders in compensation to its former director Vernon Richards.
Richards’ attorney Cindy Marica told The Daily Herald that none of the parties have repealed the dissolution request in a timely manner as per the court ruling in the case between the parties in October.
The Judge at the Court of First Instance had given NIPA and Richards the opportunity to repeal their requests as filed in the injunction procedures by Thursday, October 29, at 4:00pm at the latest. Failure to comply would have led to the labour agreement between parties being dissolved as per November 1. According to the ruling, NIPA will have to pay damages to Richards to the tune of NAf. 280,000 in compensation once his dismissal has been declared null and void in the main case.
Had both parties repealed their requests, Richards would have been allowed access to his working environment again as per November 1, the Court stated, against payment of US $250 per working day, in case of non-compliance, to a maximum of $50,000.
“In the dissolution procedure, NIPA was ordered to pay Mr. Richards a compensation provided that in the normal procedure the Court also deemed the dismissal null and void. We have submitted a petition in the normal procedure in which we have requested the court to declare the dismissal null and void on the same grounds as indicated in the injunction case,” Marica told The Daily Herald. “Of course my client wants to move on with his life and preferred this matter to be over and done with as soon as possible.
However, he is confident that justice will be served in the end and patiently awaits the outcome of the procedure.”
Richards had submitted an injunction petition in which his lawyers Cindy Marica and Jason Rogers had requested their client’s dismissal to be declared null and void, as well as payment of outstanding salaries from July until September and continued salary payments until the labour contract is legally dissolved. Richards also demanded re-instatement as Director at NIPA.
Simultaneously with the injunction, NIPA had filed a conditional dissolution request in which the Court was requested to dissolve the labour agreement, in as far as it was still deemed intact.
The judge had advised parties to discuss a settlement, possibly through intervention of a third party. Both Richard’s lawyers as well as NIPA’s legal representative attorney Reynold Groeneveldt had said they were willing to discuss a settlement. Parties were to advise the Judge by October 7 whether they agreed to a settlement, but none had materialized.
Richards (56) has been a director at NIPA since November 1, 2014. Prior to that, he was employed at St. Maarten Vocational Training School from 1986. As NIPA does not have a statutory director, Richards was accountable to the seven-member foundation board.
According to NIPA’s school board, Richards had seriously violated the board’s trust vested in him. NIPA claimed that the relationship was damaged beyond repair and that Richards had failed to follow school board instructions, for instance, regarding an open house for which several dignitaries were invited against the board’s will and concerning sending internal correspondence to the Ministry of Education without their consent.
Richard had countered that he felt “on his own” in management and had urged the board to hire an accountant, human resource officer, a grid maker, secretary and computer expert for him to focus on his main tasks.
On June 10, Richards was dismissed immediately, due to non-compliance with the board’s decision concerning the open house and what was described as a “breach of confidence.”
The Court deemed compensation reasonable because Richards had to work in a job with a “high risk of failure.” He was employed to set up a new school, had to work in a “restless environment” without a statutory director and a seven-member board; there was no acting director for a long time and there were many vacancies in the support staff.
Besides, students were unhappy because many classes for which they had paid were not given and the media and Parliament were following developments at the new school “suspiciously,” the Judge said.
Richards, however, could boast of an “exemplary” record in education in government service since 1986, the Court stated. The foundation had failed to prove that Richards had not been working hard to make his employment a success and many NIPA staff members had signed statements in which they took Richards’ side in his conflict with the board.
Source: The Daily Herald NIPA might have to compensate Richards