-Opens up floodgates for other lawsuits as Edwin Sarvice, former deputy managing director for operations, demands US$25,685
The collapse of a deal that could have made the former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), Jackson F. Doe Jr. (son of the late Jackson F. Doe Sr, political leader of Liberia Action Party in the 1985 elections) to walk away with US$67,200 as severance pay, has now resulted to Doe filing a US$72,800 plus 6% interest lawsuit against the company before the Debt Court, at the Temple of Justice.
Doe’s complaint filed on his behalf by the Gongloe and Associates Law Firm claimed that according to the handbook approved by the Board of Directors of the LPRC Doe is entitled to a severance pay of one month’s salary which is 1.5 multiplied by US$5,600, which is US$8,400 and multiplied by eight years of service, which will give a total of US$72,800.
Mr. Doe was replaced by Madam Nyemadi D. Pearson, in 2018.
Following Doe’s lawsuit, the former managing director for operations, Edwin Sarvice, also filed a similar lawsuit against the company, claiming US$25,685 constituting severance pay for three years with a year’s salary also in the amount of US$4,670, (US$4,670 multiplied by 1.5 total US$7,005 and then multiplied by 3 years, equalling US$21,015 plus US$4,670, totaling US$25,685).
Sarvice’s lawsuit was also filed by the same Gongloe and Associates Law Firm.
However, in separate answers filed by the International Law Group (ILG) representing the LPRC management, the law firm argued that the court has no jurisdiction over employment contract disputes and that the employee-employer relationship is a specialized subject matter so conferred by law on the Ministry of Labor and the National Labor Court for disposition.
“The Debt Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter in these proceedings, same being a claim for severance pay that supposedly grew out of an employer-employee relationship,” the law firm’s answer, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, said and added that the “action should be dismissed because this is not a subject matter to be disposed of by the Debt Court consistent with law.”
Further, the ILG said to render transparent justice the court must first have jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter, which it said the court lacks.
Doe’s and Sarvice’s cases are the first of a long list of cases from hundreds of people who are waiting to sue LPRC for similar allegations, a legal expert hinted the Daily Observer.
Prior to the ILG’s request for dismissal of the former LPRC’s managers’ lawsuits, there have been several exchanges of communications between the company’s in-house lawyers and the Gongloe and Associates Law Firm, which the current management of LPRC reaffirmed its commitment to the severance pay agreement.
It was not clear what prompted Madam Nyemadi D. Pearson, managing director of the LPRC to change her mind by hiring the International Law Group to push her case against her predecessors, Doe and Sarvice.
Madam Pearson had earlier agreed in separate letters to the former managers that the company was aware of their obligation to Mr. Jackson F. Doe, in the amount of US$67,200 as well as to Service for US$25,685, as stipulated in the Management’s Policy.
One of these letters, dated June 18, 2018, with the signature of Nyemadi D. Pearson and copied the Board of Directors and obtained by the Daily Observer, said “Re. Severance Pay for Jackson F. Doe Jr. Former Managing Director.
“I present my compliment and acknowledge receipt of your letter dated June 13, 2018, in the interest of your Client, Mr. Jackson F. Doe Jr. former managing director of the LPRC, requesting the management of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) to pay him severance pay.
“I am pleased to inform you that the management of LPRC has acknowledged an obligation to your Client, Mr. Jackson F. Doe Jr. in the amount of US$67,200 as stipulated in the Management’s Policy.
“I write to further inform you that due to the ongoing rehabilitation of the LPRC’s facilities at the Product Storage Terminal coupled with budgetary constraints of which the former managing director is already aware, payment of his severance benefits cannot be made now.”
Concluding, Madam Pearson’s letter said,” I can assure you that payment will be made immediately the company’s financial situation improves in the next fiscal period and thanks for your understanding as we strive to foster the President’s Pro-Poor Agenda.”
In Doe’s lawyers’ June 4, 2018 letter to Madam Pearson, they wrote: “We acknowledge receipt of your letter in response to ours, regarding the demand for severance pay on behalf of our client, Jackson F. Doe. We note that in your letter you stated that you owe our client the amount of US$67,200 as severance pay. Based on the last salary of our client, what the company owes him as severance pay is US$83,200.”
Clarifying the money, the letter noted that “We arrived at this figure by multiplying our client’s last pay, US$6,400 by half of 1.5 including the eight months, since he was employed on January 1, 2010. One month pay in lieu of notice was also added.
For Sarvice, his lawyers informed the LPRC management that “since our client’s services were terminated, he has not been paid his severance by the company. We request that you do everything within your power to pay our client his severance within a week as of the receipt of our letter. In order to ensure that there is an agreement on the amount to be paid, we request that in your acknowledgment of our letter, you please state the total amount that our client is entitled to based on your payroll.”