CUC not in position to settle former employee’s lawsuit


The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is currently not in a position to settle the lawsuit filed against it by a terminated CUC employee, Zaji O. Zajradhara, who claims he was subjected to a hostile workplace, including some employees calling him by a slur.

CUC legal counsel James S. Sirok and Zajradhara’s counsel, Monica M. Smith, have agreed to request the U.S. District Court for the NMI to give them more time and continue this matter until October 2017.

Sirok and Smith requested the court to remove the case from the court’s settlement docket.

A settlement conference in this case is set on Dec. 6, 2016.

The lawyers said they have informally discussed settlement.

The lawyers said despite their best efforts, the parties have not been able to adequately prepare for a settlement conference or trial.

Sirok and Smith said the parties agree that more time is needed to prepare for settlement negotiations, and if necessary, a trial.

The parties disclosed that Smith was sick in February 2016. As a result, their ability to adequately prepare was compromised.

Zajradhara originally filed his lawsuit in 2015 against CUC, its then-executive director Allan Fletcher, and 10 unnamed co-defendants for whistleblower/wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He said CUC initially hired him as a trade technician/operator in 2012, but he was moved into various positions.

He said CUC terminated him in October 2014 on the pretext that he had been caught in possession of illegal drugs.

CUC is the remaining defendant in this case.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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