Former employee of the then Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) Constance Reid-Batson received ten warning letters between February 7, 2014 and March 5, 2014 regarding her absence from work, the Employment Rights Tribunal was told this afternoon.
Reid-Batson, a former quality assurance officer, is challenging her termination from that state-run statutory body on May 15, 2014, because the BTA had charged that her ill-health, which led to prolonged absence from work, had affected her ability to perform.
On day-two of the unfair dismissal hearing, the Tribunal also heard that she had chalked up 464 sick days over a 24-month period.
With the BTA’s attorney Dr Lenda Blackman pressing her during nearly two hours of questioning, Reid-Batson admitted she had not reported for work between March 5, 2012 and March 4, 2014.
Blackman read from a letter dated May 2, 2014 through which Reid-Batson was advised that “having regard for the period of time – 464 days over the 24 months period” that she had been absent from work, the BTA was contemplating taking disciplinary action against her, and was inviting her to a meeting to discuss the matter.
The meeting was set for May 14, 2014, and Reid-Batson was advised that she could take along a representative such as a friend or a shop steward.
“The basis of the grounds set out above, is that due to your health leading to your said absence from work, you have not been capable of performing the work which we employed you to do,” the letter stated.
The former employee admitted that she had not attended the meeting, and it emerged that this was on the advice of her lawyer Gregory Nicholls, who had responded to the BTA on her behalf, advising that “there was no basis” for the meeting.
Reid-Batson also admitted that she had not submitted a sick certificate for the period she had been absent, but disagreed with the BTA’s attorney that she had abandoned her job.
She also conceded that she had signed a policy document agreeing to abide by the rules and regulations of the BTA, which Blackman reminded her included what was required of employees in cases of their absence from work.
The sitting was adjourned until early next year at a date to be announced later.