Jasmine Valerie Payne, who claims she was unfairly dismissed by the state-run Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB) on September 26, 2013 as its public relations and marketing officer, this afternoon admitted before the Employment Rights Tribunal that she was not academically qualified for the job.
After spending more than an hour on the witness stand, where she was grilled by the Board’s attorney Vincent Watson, she confessed that she did not have the requisite degree or diploma and that even though she knew before hand what was required, she had still applied for the job.
While staying clear of the word academic qualifications, the PR officer, who was fired on the grounds that she had lied about her academic qualifications, however contended that she was still fit for the job based on her skills set and experience, even while admitting that she still does not have a degree or diploma.
During today’s hearing at the Warrens Office Complex, St Michael, Payne also admitted under intense cross examination that even though she was given a September 28, 2012 deadline to present her academic qualifications, she did not do so.
Another six months would pass before she presented her qualifications, despite several reminders from management.
However, Payne testified that she did not deliberately refuse to present her qualifications.
She also agreed with Watson’s suggestion that what she did present as qualifications was really a certificate in public relations from the School of Continuing Studies of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
The witness told the three-member panel of commissioners, led by Ryan Omari Drakes, she did not know that this certificate was equivalent to an ‘O’ level qualification, which was in contradiction to the curriculum vitae (CV) which she presented to the Board, showing that she had ‘A’ level certificates.
Yet she refused to accept that had she presented her qualifications earlier, they would have revealed the absence of a degree.
It was an uncomfortable session for the image consultant, who admitted to feeling confused on several occasions in which she was forced to retract statements made in response to the Board’s attorney.
The witness was also grilled about her studies at the UWI.
Watson referred Payne to her own witness statement in which she had said she had earned credits throughout her three-year degree programme in History and Political Science.
However, Payne denied ever suggesting to the interviewing panel at the BVTB that she had actually acquired any academic degree.
Payne was also forced to defend the listing of English on her CV as one of her courses of study at UWI.
Under cross examination, the former public relations and marketing officer not only admitted that English was not offered as part of her degree, but also declared that its listing on her CV came as a result of a “typo”, which she told the commissioners she was made aware of for the first time today.
At the same time, Payne denied Watson’s contention that she embellished her CV by including English.
When tested on the circumstances surrounding her dismissal, the witness conceded that she knew before hand her post was a temporary one that was subject to review.
She also acknowledged that under the contract, the Board could terminate her services with one month’s notice, acknowledging that the BVTB did give her one month’s notice in writing on September 26, 2013, that it was not renewing her contract.
It later presented her with written reasons on October 6, 2013. However, Payne, who was given her requisite vacation pay, denied being advised in writing of her right to appeal.
Earlier, the commissioners turned down applications by the claimant’s lawyer Tricia Watson for the tribunal to rule that her dismissal was unfair, based on a comment by the Chief Executive Officer Henderson Thompson in his witness statement that Payne’s termination was unjust and could be remedied by the payment of damages.
Payne’s lawyer had also appealed to the tribunal to consider the principal reason given by the Board for her client’s firing.
However, the tribunal chairman said the CEO was expressing his opinion, which was not even tested on the witness stand.
In any case, it was argued that the CEO’s statement could not be accepted as evidence because he was not an expert in this field, nor was he “the board”. The chairman also pointed out that if the tribunal took the CEO’s statement as a basis for a decision right now, it would be effectively bringing the hearing to a conclusion without hearing all the evidence.