Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort fires absent night manager on the spot

POSTED: 07/5/11 12:47 PM

Court denies Neville Mars any compensation

St. Maarten – Neville Mars, a former night manager for Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino says he will appeal a decision by the Court in First Instance that approved his dismissal for urgent reasons.

Mars was fired on the spot on April 5 after management established that he was away from the front desk for long periods of time, and that the three staff members he was supposed to supervise were sleeping on the job.

He contested his dismissal in court, demanding 13 weeks of salary, payments of his vacation days and 90,000 guilders in damages.

Judge Mr. R.W.J. van Veen ruled last Wednesday that the dismissal was justified and he rejected Mars’ demands.

During the court hearing, Mars, who started working for the hotel 19 years ago in 1991, said that he reconciles with the decision to dismiss him, but he maintained that the dismissal was unreasonable.

But Judge van Veen ruled that the dismissal was justified and that Mars had grossly neglected his duties. The hotel hired a detective and made video footage to establish that Mars was absent from his work place during large parts of the night. “The employee has organized it in such a way that his absence is noticed as little as possible, by instructing the external security guards to answer the phone or to attend to guests and, if necessary, to call him on his walkie talkie.”

Interviews with security guards revealed that Mars had used this method for at least two years. “The conclusion is that the plaintiff did not do during a long time what he was hired for: being present at night for the hotel guests and supervising other staff. This neglect, and its duration, are so serious that dismissal on the spot is justified,” Van Veen ruled.

But Mars is not giving up, even though a dismissal on the spot relieves his former employer of paying him anything.  “I am asked to do four different jobs. I am the night supervisor, the night auditor, and the night maintenance man and guest service. I am everything,” he said, adding

That the night audit concludes at about 2:00 a.m. and when that is completed he has to patrol the compound.

The hotel is considered a three and a half star hotel and at any given time there are about 300 to 400 guests on the property with two security guards manning the front and back of the building.

“The one at the front is instructed to assist the front desk whenever I am not around. How can I be held responsible if the security guard is found sleeping,” he said.

Mars has accused the management of the hotel of “fabricating a story to fire him although he is not responsible for the guards. If I am at the service to a guest at any time the security guard is asked to take the responsibility of the front desk and if I am needed he contacts me by radio. If the hotel had done what was required by employing a receptionist then there will be no need for the security guard to help,” Mars said.

Mars said that he has asked the hotel’s manager Keith Graham for additional staff in the past. He believes his continued request for additional hiring is what brought about the animosity between him and the management. “This has been going on for the last 15 years.”

After he was served a dismissal letter because he had refused to shake the resident manager’s hand on December 31, and had reported it in the media, he was told by the manager Juan Fernandez that he had deliberately embarrassed the management of the hotel. He believes that the entire situation with regard to his subsequent dismissal “should be considered as racist.”

“I do not have five sick days in the 19 years that I have been involved with this hotel and now they want to dismiss me without my severance or medical benefits. I have not been paid any salary since April 2011. This is my life and I will go down fighting,” Mars concluded.

 

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