Monday, May 20th

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Editorial - To be continued

The verdict in the case brought by two staffers of St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) suspended without pay that was reported on in Saturday's paper indicates the Supervisory Board may not have acted correctly. The judge said the plaintiffs were confronted with "serious but to-date-unfounded allegations," which is considered a violation of the principles of a good employer.

Moreover, the Government foundation's statements in the media damaged the duo's good names and reputations. The court found SMHDF at fault and awarded damages based on lost income so far, concluding that there was a breach in confidence and unworkable employment relationship.

The latter suggests that while the labour contract of Financial Controller Emilio Kalmera incidentally ran out on July 1, chances of Executive Assistant in permanent service Miurica Williams returning to her old job any time soon aren't great.

It will be interesting to see as well what, if any, impact this ruling has on the pending legal proceedings of (former) director Henry Lynch, who also was suspended and subsequently dismissed for financial mismanagement and embezzlement, among other things. After all, the charges against the other two management members were related mostly to not acting against and/or cooperating with their superior's claimed transgressions.

People ought to keep in mind that although the accusations against Kalmera and Williams were said to be insufficiently substantiated, that doesn't mean further inquiry won't still prove them to be true. Government accountant bureau SOAB halted its investigation due to the controversy, but a different institution has been commissioned meanwhile to execute such a forensic probe.

It also should be noted that the defence of the two plaintiffs against their suspension was not to deny that irregularities actually had taken place. Instead, Kalmera said he had spoken to Lynch on the matter, but did not consider it his task to control the director, while Williams insisted she had known nothing about it.

In short: To be continued ...