Former Managing Director of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Jearlean John, escaped with her life on Saturday morning while walking around the Queen’s Park Savannah, Newtown.
According to reports, around 5.30 am, John was walking with her sister, when on reaching the vicinity of the United States Embassy, Queen’s Park West, shots were fired at her by several men in a passing car.
On hearing the gunshots, John and her sister ran into the darkness of the Savannah. The car stopped and the men alighted.
While in hiding, they heard men voices shouting in their direction ‘look they are there, shoot them’. John and her sister ran across to that empty lot just past the US embassy and jumped several gates and walls trying to get the attention of anyone to help them.
They finally received help from a Venezuelan woman in an apartment building who kept them until the police arrived. The police arrived promptly.
The gunmen who were pursuing John and her sister, eventually escaped.
A report was made to the St Clair Police Station.
John’s attorney, Gerald Ramdeen, went to the police station on hearing of the incident. When contacted, Ramdeen said his client was traumatized by what took place hours earlier.
John was dismissed as HDC Managing Director earlier this year. She was also Chairman of UDECOTT under the past PP Government.
John was also a Minister in the Government of Basdeo Panday in 2000.
Jearlean John, who was dismissed as Managing Director of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is suing her former employer for $17,477,600.
John is seeking an order for damages for wrongful dismissal and/or breach of contract of employment dated the 4th December 2013, as the Managing Director of the Housing Development Corporation and all consequential loss suffered as a result therefrom including but not limited to loss of future employment prospects.
She is also asking for aggravated and exemplary damages. John pointed out that she had eight and a half months remaining on her contract when she was dismissed as MD of the HDC.
She is claiming the following sums:
* Salary $527,000
* Housing Allowance $102,000
*Travelling Allowance $127,500
*Cell Phone Allowance $ 17,000
*Entertainment Allowance $ 42,500
*Land line Allowance $ 17,000
* Performance bonus $588,000
*20% gratuity $705,600
* 24 months bonus pay $2,352,000
*Loss of future employment $7,500,000
*Damage to reputation $5,000,000
*Exemplary damages $500,000
By contract of employment dated November 2, 2009, John was appointed Managing Director of the HDC for a period of three years with an option to renew at the expiration of the contract. She was responsible for the day to day operations of the HDC.
Upon John’s assumption of duties in 2009, the existing structures and processes required for the proper direction, control and management of the HDC were inefficient, insufficient and in most cases absent, she contended.
John said she was responsible for the alignment of the operations of the HDC to allow it to achieve its strategic objective as well as that of the State. This resulted in the HDC being significantly more accountable and transparent in its operations. She was also responsible for the implementation of proper governance structures and processes which increased the HDC’s performance and efficiency in the delivery of housing units to members of the public who had made applications for housing units, ensured quality decision-making and secured value for money that resulted in a significantly improved corporate and public image of the HDC.
At the expiration of the contract of employment the HDC renewed John’s contract of employment, dated December 4, 2013, for a further period of three years.
On Friday the March 19, 2016 John was orally informed that she was required to attend a meeting at the office of the HDC on Monday 21st March 2016 at 11:30 am. On Monday the 21st March 2016 John arrived at the office of the HDC at approximately 11:20 am and entered the meeting at 11:25am. Present were all the members of the Board of the HDC. The Chairman of the Board, Newman George acknowledged John and told her that she had arrived five minutes early and he got up and took her into the waiting area of the Chairman’s office.
At around 11:30am George took John into the meeting. She was then confronted with a document relating to the leasing by the HDC of a Mercedez Benz vehicle.
John said she indicated to the members of the Board that they were proceeding in a highly improper manner and that she felt that she was being ambushed because in light of the prevailing circumstances HDC could have given notice to her of this matter and addressed their concerns to her in writing and given her an opportunity to respond orally or in writing. She informed the Board that she had never used that vehicle, that it was a car that was leased by the HDC and it was not leased for her.
John said she outlined to the members of the Board in detail the steps that she had taken to secure from the acting corporate secretary, the nature and purpose of the meeting that was being held on that day, the number of requests she made for an agenda of the meeting and the various negative responses that were provided to her and the manner in which she was treated as Managing Director of the HDC.
The Chairman thereafter asked the members of the Board if they had any questions for John and they answered in the negative. She said at no time during this meeting was she disrespectful to the members of the Board. At no time during the duration of the meeting did she in any way display any behaviour that was insubordinate to the members of the Board of Directors.
John said at no time during the meeting did she behave in a manner that was inappropriate and unbecoming of a female Manager particularly a general manager interacting with members of the Board of Directors.
By letter dated the March 22, 2016, HDC without notice and in breach of the contract of employment dated the 4th December 2013, terminated the contract of employment between the John and the HDC.
By the letter dated the 22nd March 2016, John was informed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the HDC that during the meeting of the 21st March 2016 she had ‘behaved in a manner that has been deemed to be inappropriate and unbecoming of a Managing Director, in particular, of a Managing Director interacting with the members of the Board of Directors”. She was further informed that her reaction, demeanour, tone and manner of communicating with the Board of Directors could only be described as insubordinate and disrespectful. The letter further stated:
‘These actions on your part coupled with inter alia your behaviour since being sent on leave has resulted in the Board of Directors completely losing all trust and confidence in your ability to perform your duties in the best interest of the HDC as the Managing Director of the Organisation’.
John said she had suffered loss and damage to her reputation. She said future employment prospects have been severely damaged as a result of the actions of the HDC. She said she has been unable to obtain alternative employment and has suffered and continues to suffer loss and damage.
John said the conduct of the HDC in relation to her was harsh and reprehensible and outrageous. It was designed to embarrass and humiliate her in the eyes of the public. The actions of the HDC was deliberate and carried out with the intent to damage her reputation and to terminate her contract of employment with the HDC in an unlawfully manner.