Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical director, Kendal Walkes, is set to receive a small portion of the over US$783,000 (TT$5 million) owed to him by his former employer.
Walkes, who won the sizeable payout at the end of his wrongful dismissal claim against the TTFA in September last year, is expected to receive a little over TT$300,000 of the judgement sum later this week. This comes after High Court Master Martha Alexander completed his garnishee proceedings on yesterday.
In such proceedings, a third party such as the TTFA’s bank, First Citizens Bank is called upon to clear a debt using funds it (the third party) owes to the debtor. Once FCB completes Alexander’s order by paying Walkes, the freeze order barring the TTFA access to its six bank accounts will be lifted.
“I found it surprising that the defendant would have disputed the validity of the contract.”– High Court judge Joan Charles
However, Walkes may bring similar proceedings to refreeze the accounts and recoup the remainder of his payout as soon as additional funds are deposited. Similar action was taken against the TTFA by the National Futsal Team, last year.
In her oral judgement, High Court Judge, Joan Charles ruled that Walkes had been wrongfully dismissed by the TTFA in March 2016. Charles rejected claims from the TTFA that Walkes contract should be deemed void because it was signed by one witness as opposed to two and as it contained incomplete paragraphs.
“I found it surprising that the defendant would have disputed the validity of the contract,” Charles said. She stated that it was validated by former TTFA president, Raymond Tim Kee, and general secretary Sheldon Phillips, who testified on Walkes’ behalf and through evidence over the parties’ conduct after it was signed.
In her judgement, Charles ruled that Walkes, who earned a monthly salary of US$10,000 and a US$3,000 housing allowance, was entitled to compensation for the two remaining years on his contract as well as for several months when he did not receive a salary before his contract was eventually terminated. Charles also upheld a clause of his contract, which gave him the option to renew it for another three-year term.
The decision meant that he also had to be compensated for that period. In the lawsuit, Walkes, a youth coach from Pennsylvania provided details over how he got the job in 2015. According to Walkes, he was coaching in the United States Virgin Islands, when a colleague from the State Association for Youth Soccer in Pennsylvania recommended him for the job based on his experience and his Trinidadian heritage.
Walkes claimed that he had a telephone interview before being invited for another while he was in Trinidad to attend his sibling’s funeral in February 2015. He claimed that he was officially offered the position during the meeting with Tim Kee, Phillips and then the national team manager and current TTFA President William Wallace.
Walkes claimed that despite honouring the requirements of his contract, he was terminated after former TTFA president David John-Williams took up his post. In its defence, the TTFA alleged that it broke the contract after FIFA officials wrote to it and raised issues over his reported TT$93,000 a month compensation package, in light of the association’s well known financial constraints.