By Elesha George
Two expat managers who claimed they were unfairly dismissed from Sandals Grande Antigua – one for speaking out about apparent lax coronavirus protocols – are set to be offered financial settlements.
The company is expected to send its offer in writing to the deputy labour commissioner’s office later today.
Earlier this month, independent management consultant Anderson Carty, who represents both clients, filed a complaint with the labour commissioner on behalf of Louise Duggan, and also Pedro Miramon who had raised concerns about guests not wearing facemasks.
Both employees are claiming more than $100,000 in compensation to cover severance, notice pay, housing and relocation allowance, the cost of return flights home, and compensation for immediate and future loss.
Carty had requested an urgent hearing of the claims by Labour Commissioner Eltonia Rojas which led to two separate meetings being held on Monday.
“We got to a position where Sandals indicated it will be making a settlement offer,” he told Observer.
“The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and there is indication that Sandals would wish to settle the matter without prejudice and we will consider whatever counter offer that they put on the table,” Carty added,
He didn’t mention what the offer would be, neither did Sandals reply to numerous emails from Observer regarding the claims.
Sandals had been making arrangements to have the duo leave the country on July 16 as part of their contract, which addresses repatriation to home countries.
According to Carty, on his directives, his two clients had written to Sandals to request additional time. The extra time was granted which gave them the opportunity to challenge their dismissal and to have a response in waiting today.
“It was very unfortunate, the very frivolous action taken by Sandals in terms of terminating those two managers which were clearly without just cause or any merit and so we have to call on all employers in Antigua and Barbuda to be reasonable, to act fairly and within the boundaries of the law,” he remarked.
Miramon and Duggan, who were respectively restaurant and pub managers at Sandals, were suspended and later relieved of their duties on June 29 2020, following disciplinary hearings on June 23 and 24.
Miramon was taken before the hotel’s disciplinary committee for publicly voicing his dissatisfaction with the lack of enforcement of rules requiring tourists to wear facemasks while at the hotel.
Carty had argued then that his client was dismissed because he did not agree with the employer’s position that guests should not be asked to wear masks around the property, and that the masks given to the staff did not provide adequate protection from Covid-19.
The hotel’s director of food and beverage in a letter to the human resource manager reportedly termed Miramon’s behaviour “unfair” and a “bad example” to other workers.
Following that letter, the HR manager accused Miramon of making false and malicious statements about the company and spreading malicious gossip about colleagues and clients, as well as engaging in behaviour which creates discord and lack of harmony.
Meanwhile, Duggan was charged after having a verbal altercation with another manager where she refused to comply with extended working hours.
In the letter to the commissioner, it was said that Duggan, after refusing to work increased hours to accommodate visitors who arrived late at the hotel, remarked that management was clueless about what was happening at nights, or how to solve the problem.
She was charged with abandoning her work station, leaving without being relieved of her duties, insubordination and gross misconduct.
According to the complaint, the company claimed that Duggan’s actions “could endanger product or service, quality or the good and the image of the company”.
Carty claimed then that the resort’s actions were “harsh, oppressive and contrary to law and good industrial relations practices”.
Both actions, he said, amounted to an “abusive dismissal” and were worthy of compensation.
The resort’s general manager Matthew Cornall previously told Observer, “We are unable to publicly comment on internal disciplinary matters but assure you that the health and safety of all our stakeholders including our valued team members remains our top priority.
“All our protocols were developed in-line with the relevant government guidelines and are consistently maintained to certification standards.”