Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith’s unwanted advances to former personal staff member, Carrie-Ann Moreau, were at the heart of the latter’s trade dispute with the Ministry, which led to a TT$150,000 pay off with taxpayers’ money.
Moreau’s witness statement—published below without accompanying What’s App messages—claimed that she was very uncomfortable with remarks Smith made about her body on several occasions and, after complaining, she was ‘cold shouldered’ by the Sport Minister and subsequently fired.
“[…] That morning upon his arrival at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, the Minister came very close to me and commended me on how well my pants fit,” stated Moreau, about her first moment of genuine discomfort with the Sport Minister.
Her legal submission, published exclusively in the Sunday Express by journalist Dr Sheila Rampersad, counters Smith’s attempts to distance himself from the matter over the past two weeks. It also raises further questions about the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) given to Moreau.
Smith told Trinidad Newsday journalist Carla Bridglal that he was not party to the legal dispute, which was settled on 26 January 2017—a day before the case was scheduled for hearing at the Industrial Court.
“While Ms Munroe was at one point in time my assistant, I was not a party to any trade dispute at the Industrial Court nor any settlement agreement,” said Smith. “This would be easily confirmed by any official documents you may have in your possession.
“I therefore am unable to provide any comment with respect to matters where I was clearly not a party.”
It was true that the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) were the parties named in the dispute. But it would be misleading to suggest Smith was not involved.
Thus far, the beleaguered Sport Minister has enjoyed the support of his colleagues like Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, Minister in the Office of the Attorney General Stuart Young and Minister of Planning and Development, Chief Whip and PNM Women’s League chair Camille Robinson-Regis.
Robinson-Regis chided the Newsday for following a “non-story” while Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley told the media that he had confidence in his Sport Minister.
Intriguingly, Industrial Court documents unearthed by the Express did not include a non-disclosure agreement, which raises questions as to who tried to gag Moreau and whether the document is legally binding.
Wired868 understands that Moreau first encountered the NDA when she went to collect her cheque at the Sport Ministry. Surprised, she eventually signed the document in the presence of her union representative, Teddy Stapleton.
It is uncertain who penned the NDA and under whose instructions. Although Al-Rawi and Young defended the use of the controversial document, available information so far points only to Smith and his then Permanent Secretary Natasha Barrow as being invested in the attempt to cover up Moreau’s witness statement.
The Sport Minister and his PS discussed the NDA, in a document published by Wired868, immediately after Moreau collected her cheque. Barrow was subsequently transferred to Social Development after authorising a TT$92,000 bill for Smith to take an entourage to Tobago for a weekend.
Barrow: “Matter with Carrie-Ann Moreau resolved. Settlement in the Amt of 150,000 agreed and cheque collected.”
Smith: “[Thanks emoticon]. confidential signed?”
Barrow: Yes it’s [sic] was part of the settlement agreement that we both signed.”
Smith: “[Thumbs up emoticon]. and no mention of sexual harassment.”
Moreau is believed to have been the only party to file in the Industrial Court on the matter. Since the Sport Ministry’s legal team never made a submission, it is possible that they did not see the details revealed in today’s Express and made their own settlement offer based on whatever they were told by Smith and the PS at the time of Moreau’s sacking, Joan Mendez.
Wired868 asked Smith to reveal who created the NDA and under whose instructions; and whether the document was meant to not only keep the details of Moreau’s claims from the public but also from his own Cabinet colleagues.
Up to the time of publication, the Sport Minister had not responded.
(Trade Dispute Between Advocate Trade Union & Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and Chief Personnel Officer)
Witness Statement of Party No 1 Carrie-Ann Moreau:
My name is Carrie-Ann Moreau and I was an employee of Party No 2 Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs (hereinafter referred to as the Company).
I visited the Diego Martin Central Constituency Office on 8 October 2015 in hope of speaking with the Honourable Darryl Smith Member of Parliament for the area concerning his assistance in obtaining a job. I presented him with my resume and he indicated that he had a position in mind, one which involved me being part of his personal staff.
We conversed a bit about family and my previous job and his only questions relative to the job offer was if I “was good in writing” and “preparing of letters” to which I responded in the affirmative. Thereafter I visited his office on two or more occasions to further discuss the position, its remuneration and to meet with the Permanent Secretary. On 3 November 2015 I started working at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
On my first day I was expected to meet co-workers who I would be interacting with during my stay and be in receipt of a comprehensive job description, only the first occurred. During the first few weeks I reported to work for 8am and usually leave between 4:30pm and 5pm. There were occasions when that time runs later if Minister Smith had to attend events.
My normal arrival at the office I would proceed to Minister’s Office, let him know that I was present. Sometimes he may request a cup of coffee and other times a conversation would ensue where he would talk about his family, the difficulties in his marriage and ask about my family. I would engage the Minister as I saw no ill in these casual conversations.
On a daily basis, it was expected that I would be present for meetings to record the minutes, however he indicated that the Executive Secretary (a permanent employee of the Ministry) could sometimes fill in for me.
From time to time Minister Smith would even offer a compliment on my mode of dress and or my overall disposition. Every so often, he would even applaud my efforts as a single mother, but somehow managed to include comments about needing me to be more available on weekends. One particular morning the Minister went so far as to comment on my posterior and it was from then I began to feel a bit uncomfortable.
On 18 December 2015, the Minister along with the staff were in attendance for a meeting of the National Governing Bodies. A press conference was to follow and thereafter a walkthrough of the St James Youth Facility, that morning upon his arrival at the Hasely Crawford Stadium the Minister came very close to me and commended me on how well my pants fit.
I did not engage in any further conversation, he then gave me instruction to drop a member of his party group home in the area and then go and collect lunch. Minister Smith had supported the venture and it was my duty to ensure he received the lunch. Minister Smith was in company of a gentleman so I decided to quickly dropped off his lunch as I also had to deliver a lunch for his Personal Assistant Karen Edwards.
I reminded Minister Smith of this so I tried to quickly deliver his lunch and proceed to the constituency office where Karen was at the time, however the gentleman insisted that he was on his way out so Minister Smith took the time to ask me how I felt the walkthrough went earlier on also my opinion on certain things.
While rendering my response he began to give an ovation to my facial features paying particular attention to my lips stating that they were “very nice” his remarks caught me totally off guard. At this point I was feeling very uncomfortable, I simply tried to continue what I had started talking about regarding the walkthrough at the facility earlier on.
It was a great relief when the Permanent Secretary knocked and entered his office as she needed to discuss some important issues with him. It was then that I make my hasty exit, I then called Karen and informed her that I was on my way and that I needed to discuss something desperately important with her.
On my way there I kept replaying the scenario over and over in my head and tried to convince myself that I needed to have a witness and be very careful with the Minister so that someone would be in my corner and come my defence. When I got to the constituency office, Karen was very warm and welcoming she wanted to know what was so important I was unable to find the words to begin telling her what had transpired, she blurted “what wrong? yuh boss tracking yuh.”
I was in utter shock and began telling her what had transpired. I asked Karen was I doing something wrong or am I carrying about myself in an inappropriate manner to provoke anyone’s suspicion. She replied I did no such thing and proceeded to tell me that I was not the first and will not be the last.
The evening continued with us preparing for the first annual Toy Drive which took place two days later, following which we went to a lounge on Ariapita Avenue to unwind from the day’s work. While there, Minister Smith called me several times all calls went unanswered and Karen was witness to this.
The next day Minister Smith tried to contact me via What’s App messenger. I eventually replied to him explaining to him that I was uncomfortable with some of the things he had said the previous day, he never replied.
Immediately thereafter there was a distinct change in how he interacted with me. Up to this time I had not been in receipt of a Job Description. I was told to report for work at 7:30am and leave whenever the Minister was done with work for the day. Additionally, Minister Smith became very cold in his interaction with me and issued deadlines for the completion of minutes for meetings.
I was now more than ever unclear as to what were my duties and responsibilities, as I was told at the beginning that my job was very simple as I had only four things I had to do. They were to ensure the Minister always shined as the best Minister, that the Ministry was ranked number one, that he was always perceived to be the best MP and that his constituency did everything bigger and better than any other. In order to accomplish this the staff will have to do whatever it takes.
In an effort to seek some form of redress I reported the incident to the Permanent Secretary detailing the circumstance which surrounded my working conditions, however this borne no fruit. From then onwards it became quite a chore to go to work each morning as I was constantly ignored and did not feel like I had a purpose.
Conversations only took place when the Minister felt like it where he would sometimes hint that he did not feel that the position was the “right fit” for me and felt I needed to be place elsewhere but he had always reassured me that he will never leave me “hanging” knowing I am a single mother.
However on 3 May 2016, I was summoned to the office of the Permanent Secretary who advised me that my service is terminated by Minister Smith with immediate effect. Grounds for dismissal as stated in a letter that was addressed to her were on the basis of him needing someone who had more experience in the preparation of parliamentary documents and that in lieu of notice I would receive one month’s salary. I was never told what [was] the type of experience, neither was it discussed with me on/before my employment.
I have never had any problems with the Ministry since I began working and I am very disappointed with my termination.