GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) -- A woman employed as head of international affairs in the Cayman Islands office of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is suing the regional football association over wrongful dismissal.
Former CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb
In a lawsuit filed at the end of December in the Cayman Islands Grand Court, Lerina Bright claims she was forced out of her $100,000 per year job after she was placed on required leave in June following former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb’s very public arrest in Zürich in the massive FIFA corruption probe. Claiming she was made to appear guilty by association, she is also seeking damages for working with dishonest people.
In the lawsuit, Bright, a sports administrator with eight years experience in the field, reveals how she was told in a letter that her post was among the jobs under scrutiny as part of the CONCACAF review in the wake of the arrests in Switzerland.
Bright claims that on the same day, at the CONCACAF office in George Town, Dr Laila Mintas, CONCACAF director of sports integrity, announced to other staff that Bright and two other employees had been sent home because investigations were underway into their roles in the case relating to Jeffrey Webb.
The suit claims that Mintas said, “As far as I am concerned all three of them are thieves … They have been carrying cash for Jeffrey,” or words to that effect, and she said that Bright was also under criminal investigation.
The suit states that Bright was then denied access to her place of work, computer, emails, cell phone and corporate bank accounts and was interviewed by CONCACAF lawyers a few days later.
In September, Bright received another request for a meeting with lawyers but this time she requested that the questions be put in writing and warned that CONCACAF was in breach of her contract. She then received a letter threatening to sack her if she did not show up for the interview.
In November, Bright’s lawyer wrote to CONCACAF and stated that unless the association provided work for Bright by 13 November, she would consider the contract at an end. In response, the lawyers for CONCACAF again threatened dismissal if she did not attend the interview without conditions.
After more exchanges, no work was provided.
Bright claims that the way she was treated by CONCACAF was designed to make her working life intolerable and damage or destroy the relationship of trust and confidence.
“As a result of placing the plaintiff on required leave subsequent to the arrest of Jeffrey Webb and other high ranking employees of the defendant, (CONCACAF) the defendant cast suspicion upon the conduct and integrity of the Plaintiff (Bright),” the suit alleges.
It further claims that the comments by Mintas to co-workers implying she was involved with the arrests and the placing of the plaintiff on “an unjust and inordinately long leave without a timeframe for return to work” undermined the trust and confidence of the relationship and was constructive dismissal.
Bright also said CONCACAF placed her in a working environment where dishonest practices were being carried out and that she was required to work with Jeffrey Webb, Eduardo Li, Julio Rocha, Costas Takkas and Jack Warner, all of whom were indicted in the FIFA probes.
Working with these people and others who have been indicted in the scandal has also damaged her future employment prospects, Bright claims. In addition to the allegations made against her by Mintas “of serious criminal wrongdoing”, Bright said serious harm was caused to her professional reputation.
“By reason of the words spoken the plaintiff has suffered hurt, distress and embarrassment and her reputation and credit as a Sports Administrator has been seriously harmed,” the lawyers stated in the document filed in the Grand Court.
As well as seeking unspecified special damages for slander, stigma and breach of contract, Bright claims she is out of pocket by almost $40,000 in missing salary, benefits and expenses.
Republished with permission of Cayman News Service