Mark Menzies, Don Gillett, Colin Morrison, Charlette Barnett, Michael Novelo and Journett McKoy are former employees of Belize Water Services Limited (BWS) let go by the company last February. They claim they were unfairly fired over alleged involvement in a circulation of malicious and salacious letters alleging poor behavior by certain persons in the company; BWS, however, insists that they were made redundant in a belt-tightening exercise the company had hinted at from five years ago. Today the matter went to trial before Justice Michelle Arana, and one of the plaintiffs, Mark Menzies, was cross-examined on the witness stand about the contents of his witness statement by BWS’s attorney Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams. At the lunch-time break, Menzies’ counsel, Senior Counsel Said Musa, summarized the locus of the case.
“They are seeking damages for wrongful termination, wrongful dismissal of their jobs. In the case of my client for instance, Mark Menzies, he’s been there going on thirty-three years at the time when he was terminated on the grounds of redundancy and yet shortly after, as the case would show eventually that his job was replaced by others.”
“Sir, what’s the relevance of the discussion just now pertaining to the qualifications of the various persons in the lab unit?”
“Well they were trying to show that he was made redundant because of, that they were trying to improve efficiency.”
Menzies and the others, who are being represented by Tricia Pitts-Anderson, are asking for general damages related to unlawful termination and various assorted other damages for special circumstances. It came out in court that BWS has already paid Menzies monies related to his redundancy/termination – a six figure sum that Menzies said still doesn’t cover his severance for the 13 years he was employed prior to the introduction of the pension scheme for workers in 1993. According to Musa, the workers were scapegoated for no particular reason.
Said Musa – Attorney for Mark Menzies
“They were wrongfully terminated, all of them and the company is maintaining that they were released on grounds of redundancy when in fact their clear assertion is that they were terminated wrongfully based on some investigation at the company [that] people were carrying out concerning letters that were circulating attacking staff members and they were being accused, investigated and as a result they were wrongfully terminated.”
Arguments continued through this afternoon and will wrap up tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.