The accusation came in the form of an email from an undisclosed sender who criticised Sandals in Jamaica for reserving the high-paying managerial jobs for foreigners.
Sandals Resort International has responded to the allegation noting that its entire board comprises Jamaicans and Caribbean national and that locals are represented at every level of organisation.
The email containing the accusation, has been the subject of litigation in New York courts as Sandals sought to force the Californian-headquartered Google Inc to disclose wide-ranging information about the sender of the email to a number of ‘undisclosed recipients’.
Sandals considered the contents libellous, and filed a petition seeking disclosure of information and materials that would enable it to build a case against the email sender, who suggested that the company benefited from subsidies from the Jamaican Government, while hiring native Jamaicans for low-paying menial jobs and reserving its high-skill, high-paying jobs for foreigners.
The courts have thrown out its case against Google.
Sandals contended that the contents of the email were false and defamatory in asserting that the resort company was racist and discriminatory in hiring non-Jamaicans for all positions of management and authority, and giving native Jamaicans only low-paying menial jobs.
However, in a unanimous decision handed down on May 19, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Department in New York, ruled that the contents of the email constituted an expression of constitutionally protected opinion, and a libel action cannot be maintained unless it is premised on published assertions of fact.
The communication was not actionable, the court said, affirming a Supreme Court ruling that Google should, therefore, not disclose the requested information relating to the account holder.
Responding to the allegations based on questions posed by Sunday Business, Sandals said that as a Jamaican-founded, owned, and operated business, it did and would “continue to vociferously refute the contents of the email in question”.
In its statement, captioned “Rogue email from St Lucia”, Sandals said, “The fact that the sender … is permitted to remain anonymous as a result of this judgment, does not make what was in the email true.”
The email sender has remained anonymous, although, according to the judgment, an individual did contact the Supreme Court during the proceedings in response to an order to show cause why Google should not disclose the information requested by Sandals.
Email sender contacted
Based on a stipulation between Sandals and Google, the Internet search company notified the account holder and provided that person with a copy of the order to show cause. The individual contacted the court and acknowledged receipt of Google’s notification, but declared that the email was not defamatory.
Notwithstanding, the court said that whether or not the account holder appeared, the stipulation necessarily acknowledged that the court must decide, based on the governing law, whether Google should turn over to Sandals the requested information.
In its statement issued late Thursday, the resort company noted that apart from the Government of Jamaica, Sandals Resorts is the country’s largest employer, and contrary to information sent in the email, “the entire executive board of the privately held company comprises Jamaican nationals as well as other Caribbean nationals, all of whom have been affiliated with Sandals Resorts for more than a decade”.
In addition, it said, nearly half of all general managers – the top resort positions – are held by Jamaicans, with nationals represented at every level.
“In fact, throughout the Caribbean where we operate, our goal is to give people of each country an opportunity to join our successful organisation, and in Saint Lucia, for instance, where we operate three resorts, the general managers are all Saint Lucians,” said Sandals.
“Sandals Resorts International remains fiercely committed to the success of its home country and the countries where we operate. We will continue to invest here and to provide the opportunities Jamaicans are deserving of.”
(Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a Gleaner publication)