The Belize Tourism Board has lost another 6 figure civil suit which was brought one of its former employees.

This time, the litigant who went complaining to the Supreme Court is Misty Michael, the former Director of Marketing and Industry Relations. She successfully convinced the Supreme Court that she was wrongfully terminated.

In April 2020, during the last few months of the former Barrow Administration, she signed a 3-year contract with the BTB, for an annual salary of eighty-four thousand dollars. She worked from April 2020 until May 13, 2021, when she received a termination letter from the management of BTB under the new government.

Michael then claimed just under 218 thousand dollars as damages for wrongful termination. We understand that this is the value that she would have received had the employment contract run its entire course.

The BTB resisted this wrongful termination and brought a counterclaim for the declaration that, quote, "the written contract of employment dated April 1, 2020, made between the Claimant and the Defendant is invalid and/or unenforceable as neither the Claimant's appointment as Director and Head of Department of Marketing and Industry Relations nor her remuneration was approved by the Minister." End quote. Senior Counsel E. Andrew Marshalleck represented the BTB.

After reviewing the arguments made by Michael, and her attorney, Senior Counsel Dean Barrow, Justice Lisa Shoman ruled in their favor.

In her judgment, Justice Shoman said, quote, "This Court finds in the circumstances that it was not for the Claimant to prove that she had a valid contract, but for the Defendant to show that her contract was, in fact, invalid and unenforceable."

So, after determining that the contract and that clause were valid, the judge turned to whether or not the Claimant was wrongfully terminated.

She referred to testimony from the current Director of Tourism Evan Tillett tat where he said they wanted to cut back on compensation packages - and said that in Michael's case they could have paid herm but "it was not prudent"…

Justice Shoman seized on that, saying, quote, "the attempt to convince this Court that "unable to pay" means "it is not prudent to pay" is unconvincing. Inability does not mean imprudence, especially when the evidence shows that same post is filled on the day following the termination of the Claimant… the Claimant was wrongfully terminated, and that she was terminated without cause." End quote.

With those findings, Justice Shoman ordered that the Claimant, Misty Michael, is entitled to damages in the sum of a little under 218 thousand dollars, plus interest of 6% per annum from the date of her termination and legal costs.

We understand that there are pending lawsuits of wrongful termination against BTB from 2 of Michael's peers. Knowledgeable observers tell us that those suits may end up going against the BTB and in favor of those former employees because the circumstances of their termination were similar to Michael's.

So, the BTB is now staring down the Karen Bevans misadventure of almost three-quarters of a million dollars, plus Misty Michael's 218 thousand, AND possibly damages connected to the wrongful termination suits from those other employees.

Channel 7