Seven years after parting ways with the state-owned Rural Development Commission (RDC), a former employee was officially informed today that he was unfairly dismissed by that entity.
The decision was handed down by a panel of the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT) chaired by attorney at law Omari Drakes in the conference room of the Ministry of Labour in Warrens, St Michael.
In a summary of the judgment, Drakes told former temporary Field Officer Leo Graham – who was accompanied by his attorney Gregory Nicholls – that the RDC’s failure to renew his contract was unfair.
Graham was terminated by a letter dated May 30, 2013. The correspondence advised him that his contract could not be renewed after June 30. He was given a layoff termination certificate saying his contract had come to an end.
The state enterprise later claimed Graham was sent home because another Field Officer who was acting in a senior post had come back in the position in which he was acting.
However, supervisor of that department Lloyd Bend disputed the RDC’s contentions during testimony before the tribunal.
The tribunal chair also said no evidence was found that the claimant was told he was acting for anybody and referred to the testimony of an RDC officer who stated that Graham should not have been acting for anyone in any case.
“In the overall circumstances, there was no factual basis on which the tribunal could find that the respondent complied with Section 39 (4) of the Employment Rights Act. The tribunal must therefore [find] that failure of renewal of contract was unfair,” the ERT chair declared.
However, Drakes told the small gathering that comprised only fellow commissioners, the RDC team led by attorney Mitch Codrington, the former employee and his counsel Nicholls and Barbados TODAY, that the tribunal will meet again on March 5 to rule on the remedies.
In the meantime, the tribunal head has asked the two sides to collaborate and, if possible, agree by February 11 on the nature of the remedy which the claimant would receive.
He told them that if a settlement can be reached it would make for a non-contentious outcome and a speedy decision when the tribunal resumes on March 5.