Court orders PSS to pay salary arrears and damages Postal Services blundered with suspension Denicio Richardson

POSTED: 06/18/14 11:54 PM

St. Maarten – The Supervisory Board of Directors of Postal Services St. Maarten blundered when it suspended its managing director Denicio Richardson on December 27, 2011 for overstepping his authority to sign checks with a value of more than 5,000 guilders. This appears from a court ruling from the administrative court in first instance that sentences PSS to pay close to 430,000 guilders (around $240,000) in salaries, medical costs, collection costs, immaterial damages and legal costs.

The board of directors decided on October 11, 2010, a day after St. Maarten obtained country status, to hire Richardson as managing director for PSS. The board set his gross salary at 10,000 guilders per month and established that Richardson could sign checks up to a value of 5,000 guilders. All bank transactions required a second signature from the financial director.

On December 19. 2011, Richardson signed a check for 8,000 guilders to buy five computers PSS needed for its operations. This was the reason for the board to suspend him.

The court ruled however that the preventive supervision of the managing director is regulated in the PSS-statutes and that limiting the authority to sign checks is not part of these rules. The court ruled therefore that the board’s decision to impose this limitation is void because it violates the statues. As a consequence, Richardson’s suspension misses a legal basis. “Richardson’s suspension is therefore unlawful and PSS has to compensate the damages he suffered from this.”

Another peculiarity that points to incompetence in the supervisory board of directors – led by Hubert Pantophlet – is the salary Richardson received. In the meeting of October 11, 2010, the board set the gross monthly salary at 10,000 guilders. The court ruled that this decision also lacks legal basis, because the board should have made a proposal about the salary to the general shareholder meeting. Country Sint Maarten is the only shareholder in PSS and Minister of General Affairs Sarah Wescot-Williams is the shareholder representative. Since the board never made a proposal to the shareholder, the decision about Richardson’s salary is also void.

Adding to the confusion is that the board agreed to pay Richardson advances on this gross monthly salary of 8,000 guilders net – which equals a gross monthly salary of 15,000 guilders.

The court ruled, based on what transpired between the board and its former managing director that PSS never managed to make an agreement with Richardson about his salary or his other labor conditions.

The court furthermore established that, lacking an agreement about the salary, Richardson is entitled to a remuneration that is usual or reasonable for his function for the period from October 10, 2010, until his departure on February 1, 2013.

Richardson referred in the procedure to the remuneration for several managing directors of government-owned companies in St. Maarten and Curacao. He proposed the lowest remuneration from this range – 19,740.55 guilders gross per month. The court agreed with this reasoning and established in its ruling Richardson’s salary at the aforementioned amount.

Based on this number and on the amount Richardson received as advance payments during his tenure PSS still has to pay him almost 237,000 guilders, plus close to 167,000 guilders for unused vacation days and unpaid pension premiums.





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