Worker challenges her dismissal by Massy
by Emmanuel Joseph
The Employment Rights Tribunal was set this afternoon to begin hearing a wrongful dismissal case against Massy Stores Barbados Limited when the Trinidadian-owned company indicated a preference for returning the matter to the Labour Department for reconciliation.
The company’s attorney, Satcha Kissoon, communicated this wish to the three-member panel before it had started to take evidence in the matter in which former employee Shakera Wood is seeking a ruling on her dismissal two years ago. Suggesting that Massy wanted the matter over and done with in the quickest possible time, Kissoon, who was flanked by the company’s Human Resources Manager Dionne Walcott, informed the tribunal that the company did not want to waste the panel’s time with a long proceeding and would rather seek a resolution in short order through a mediator.
Deputy chairperson Kathy Hamblin, who is heading the three-member panel, agreed. She urged the applicant to accept the offer and return to the Labour Department for a reconciliation meeting with her former employer.
However, it was only after Wood was assured that if the Labour Department failed to resolve her case, the tribunal would still be ready to handle it, did she agree to mediation. The tribunal said it would ask the Labour Department to set up a mediation meeting with the parties on or before August 10 and report to it by August 21.
In the meantime, the deputy chair announced September 17 at 1.30 p.m. as the date for hearing the case if reconciliation failed. In his earlier offer for an out-of-tribunal settlement, Kissoon made it clear that if the alternative dispute resolution was rejected, Massy Stores was ready to aggressively defend its decision to terminate Wood, who was not represented by counsel.
“It is unfortunate that Ms Wood would not have a representative that would properly advise her, but I think there could be some middle ground reached and I think that that would be one of the things this tribunal would want to see happen as well, not to prejudge her position ma’am,” said Kissoon.
Kissoon gave notice that if the matter was returned to the tribunal, Massy would be producing video evidence to help prove its case. Wood, on the other hand, informed the tribunal that she had witnesses to call, at least one of whom still worked with Massy. She expressed some misgivings about their availability. However, the company’s lawyer assured her that any witness who still works with the store, would be made available.
Besides Hamblin, John Williams and Ulric Sealy are the other members of the panel, which would hear the Massy vs Wood case.
There are two other cases down for hearing by the Employment Rights Tribunal. The first on August 10 involves a Leo Graham versus the state-owned Rural Development Commission (RDC) at 2 p.m. The other case, set for September 10 is between an Ann Marie Holder and AVG Investments Limited starting at 1 p.m.
A date is still to be set for hearing the much-publicized National Conservation Commission (NCC) case involving 200 workers who were sent home under controversial circumstances. email@example.com