JAMAICA – UWI maintains silence over dismissal of lecturer


The University of the West Indies (UWI) says it will not disclose information regarding “prospective employees” or workers after a 43-year-old US-based academic said he had been fired as a lecturer before officially taking up his position as a lecturer.

Dr René Williamson, a chemical and biomedical engineer, was expected to take up his three-year appointment as lecturer at the Mona campus on August 1, but he said he received correspondence from the university indicating that his contract had been terminated with immediate effect.

“I reported to work on Monday morning (August 5), and while I was waiting to meet with the head of the department, I saw an email from the registrar’s office. The email was sent on the 4th, but the attachment was dated the 2nd of August. By that time, I was on a flight to Jamaica. I didn’t see the email until I showed up to work,” Williamson told the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper.

He said earlier this month, he was notified that “on the basis that the documents you have presented are inadequate for an assessment of your present medical status, please be advised that The University of the West Indies hereby rescinds its offer of employment with immediate effect”.

In a one paragraph statement, UWI said it “does not disclose information concerning terms of engagement with prospective employees or employees”.

But Williamson, who had earlier promised to give needy students his estimated three million dollar (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) annual basic salary approximately, said while UWI has a right to hire and fire as it sees fit, his greatest concern is how his private medical information was handled. He said social media had been reporting that he suffers from bipolar disorder.

The Jamaican-born Williamson told the Gleaner newspaper that the university did not “follow a normal process in handling of those medical records because my medical information is now the subject of gossip in Jamaica and ridicule on different social-media platforms”.

Williamson, who has a doctorate from Yale University in biomedical engineering, said he has taught at the New York University (NYU), Yale and the University of Trinidad and Tobago, also challenged the UWI reasons for his dismissal, while the email stated that he didn’t present sufficient evidence, he had sent all his medical records, totalling 500 pages, even including records from the places that he had previously worked.

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  1. Sue them for breach of confidentiality under the Data protection Act.
    Maybe also unfair dismissal since he had already secured the position on a contractual agreement that I assume was signed?.
    UWI should have a dismissal procedure for employees and it’s clear this was not followed?.

  2. By the way, is it true that the local UWI open campus director was fired? Word has it that the same MO of treating the workers like elephant turd was applied by the director. A leopard cannot change its spots.

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