The Employment Rights Tribunal hearing the unfair dismissal case of former quality assurance officer at the then Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) Constance Reid-Batson heard this afternoon that she had chalked up 300 sick days in one year alone.
The BTA is claiming that Reid-Batson, who started work in 1986, was dismissed in May 2014 because her prolonged illness affected the agency’s productivity.
The number of sick days came to light as Reid-Batson was being subjected to intense questioning on the witness stand by the authority’s attorney Dr Lenda Blackman, as hearing commenced at the Warrens Office Complex.
With the BTA’s records in hand, Blackman asked the claimant if she would agree that she was absent from work for 300 days in 2013.
“I cannot agree on those figures for 2013. I have all my figures for 2013. I could agree once I check my records,” the witness replied.
The attorney also showed her a company document which revealed that she had been absent from work for 146 days in 2012.
“I cannot accept those figures as correct . . . because I am aware that the department makes a lot of mistakes,” she told the tribunal, which comprised Chairman Hal Gollop, QC; Ulric Sealy and John Williams.
Challenged to provide documents to contradict the figures, Reid-Batsonsaid she was unable to because “ I was not given the opportunity to get my personal files from the BTA with my leave”.
However, after persistent questioning by both the attorney and Gollop, she admitted she had never returned to the office to request any documents; that her attendance had been an issue, and that she was unaware whether the attendance records were revised after she had questioned them.
The Tribunal also heard that Reid-Batson, who is represented by Gregory Nicholls, was away from work for six months after getting an extension to her sick leave on July 10, 2013, and her appearance before the medical board for evaluation was followed by more sick leave.
The former BTA worker told the hearing she had agreed to see a cardiologist but had been unable to honour that appointment, to which Blackman countered that Reid-Batson had agreed to a second appointment.
However, Reid-Batson said that to this day she was still waiting on her former employer to make the arrangements.
The hearing was adjourned until Friday at 2 p.m.