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Nov 13, 2009

Former National Assembly clerk wins case against government

But one case against the government was settled earlier this week. Conrad Lewis was appointed clerk of the National Assembly in 2003 under the People’s United Party. His appointment had no time limit, until January first, 2008 when he signed a five year contract. Ten months later, on October sixteenth, Lewis was handed his marching orders by the United Democratic Party’s Speaker of the House, Emil Arguelles. That came in the form of a letter stipulating that his termination was effective immediately and that he would be paid one month’s salary and any forthcoming benefits. Lewis, however, went to court because he felt that he was wrongfully terminated. He sued for payment of six hundred and forty-two thousand eight hundred and twenty-four dollars for the breach of his employment agreement. That amount covered salaries, housing, entertainment, telephone allowances and vacation leave for October 2008 to December 2012, the remainder of his contract. But his claim was ignored and Lewis sued the National Assembly Staff Committee and the Attorney General in February of this year. Lewis filed for “damages for wrongful, unlawful and unfair dismissal and breach of contract”. This past Wednesday Justice Oswell Legall ruled in his favor and Lewis walked away with six thousand three hundred seventy-five dollars notice pay, an additional six days pay for the period October sixteenth to the twenty-first, pro-rata gratuities up to October twenty-first as well as any vacation leave and overtime pay that was due. That judgment was based on testimonies from the Speaker and the Senate President, Andrea Gill, who told the court that the decision to terminate Lewis was made in his absence because he was asked to leave the meeting when the subject came up. The Speaker testified that there were two ministers, members of the committee, who said they did not have confidence in Lewis because he had been a candidate for the P.U.P. Justice Legall felt that Lewis was not given the opportunity to defend himself and, therefore he could not have been properly removed from office.


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