Chefette must pay

Court dismisses fast food chain’s appeal in unfair dismissal case

In what attorney-at-law Edmund Hinkson described as a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal today upheld a 2015 decision by the Employments Rights Tribunal, which had found that Chefette Restaurants Limited had unfairly dismissed its assistant manager Orlando Harris back on January 27, 2014.

However, the local fast food chain gained a moral victory when the court lowered – albeit slightly – the amount that the tribunal had awarded to Harris.

Hinkson, who represented the former worker, said the court’s decision was “a stern warning to employers that their employees have rights, which must be respected at all times”.

Attorney-at-Law Edmund Hinkson (right) and his client Orlando Harris are all smiles exiting the Supreme Court this morning after the Court of Appeal handed down the landmark decision in their favour.

Arguing that the verdict had validated the tribunal’s decision, he added that the judgment would set a major precedent for the interpretation of the 2013 Employments Rights Act as it relates to dismissals.

Hinkson also suggested that no longer could businesses treat their workers as commodities that can be easily dispensed with.

“It is a warning to employers that employees are not just here today and gone tomorrow. You have to give them full natural justice and you have to inform them of reasons in writing if you want discipline them in any way,” the attorney-at-law told journalists after the decision was handed down in the No. 1 Supreme Court.

“You have to give them an opportunity to respond to those written reasons. You have to give them a full opportunity to be heard. In other words not any sham or jungle courts where their rights are being trampled,” he added.

For his part, Harris said he felt vindicated and relieved that the matter had come to a close.

“Since this incident happened it has been like a dark shadow hanging over me, even in my ability to find similar work. So at present I feel good and I feel vindicated.”

The challenge by Chefette through attorney Esther Arthur, was lodged nine days after the tribunal awarded Harris $106, 630.01 in damages, including 27 months retroactive wages and holiday pay. The fast food chain had listed 13 grounds on which it was contesting the decision.

However, Justices of Appeal Sandra Mason, Andrew Burges and Kaye Goodridge agreed with the appellant on the single ground that the tribunal had erred in calculating the sum awarded to Harris.

Chefette had argued that in calculating compensation pursuant to Section 36n (1) (a) of the Employment Rights Act, the Employments Right Tribunal should have taken into account the $11,540.88 paid to Harris in lieu of notice. The court held that the fast food chain would now pay $95,089.13.

The court also found that the fast food chain had not submitted the real reason for Harris’ dismissal.

Chefette had contended that the claimant was terminated in accordance with Clause 11 of its conditions and terms of employment 2010 to 2013, for failing to follow the cash-handling procedures for the day-to-day running of the restaurant.

Among the procedures are that cashiers are allowed to cash a cheque for employees on the same or similar category, but are not allowed to cash the company’s cheques made out to a manager without permission from the manager on duty; and that if a manager wants to cash a cheque issued by the firm, he would pass it to the cashier during the balancing of the intake.

Chefette also claimed that on September 14, 2013, a $40 cheque made payable to Donnalyn Ward, another employee, was received, endorsed with the signature of ‘O Harris’, cashed and deposited during the shift managed by the claimant, who could lend no clarity to the matter when asked to do so by the company.

Like the tribunal, the Court of Appeal found that the real reason for dismissal was gross misconduct and that the circumstances surrounding the matter did not meet this threshold.

“It is clear to us that Mr Harris was unfairly dismissed by Chefette. First, having regard for the reasons shown for Mr Harris’ dismissal, Chefette did not act reasonably in treating that reason as a sufficient reason for dismissing him. Second, Chefette failed to comply with the rules in Part A of the Fourth Schedule,” Mason said.

colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

20 Responses to Chefette must pay

  1. Marcia Addison-Gilkes
    Marcia Addison-Gilkes August 23, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    It is about time people stand up for their rights. Couz i take my hat off to you. I love you your favourite cousin Marcia Addison Gilkes. See you in December

    Reply
  2. Jason Patel
    Jason Patel August 23, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    That link is not working

    Reply
    • Marcia Addison Gilkes August 24, 2017 at 12:26 am

      it is about time PEOPLE stand up for their rights. i take my hat off to my cousin. my prayers did not go in vain.. Rick I LOVE YOU

      Reply
  3. Restaruant Manager August 24, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Unfortunately many many staff don’t follow procedures, are late, are disrespectful, dishonest and sexual harassment is rampant in the service industry, thats why the turn over is so high… a lot of people not good enough..simple

    Reply
  4. The Negrocrat August 24, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Hopefully they will treat staff members much better now

    Reply
    • Jennifer August 24, 2017 at 8:56 am

      @Negrocrat – who is the they????

      Reply
  5. Alex Alleyne August 24, 2017 at 5:45 am

    “CHUMP-CHANGE”

    Reply
    • VoR August 24, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      It’s more than he had before.

      Reply
  6. Alex Alleyne August 24, 2017 at 5:46 am

    After they take out VAT and pay the Lawyer.

    Reply
    • Carson C Cadogan August 24, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Chefette will have to pay court costs including Lawyer fees.

      Reply
      • Carson C Cadogan August 24, 2017 at 7:01 am

        That’s chump change for Chefette.

        Reply
  7. Sparkling Jewel August 24, 2017 at 9:02 am

    If it’ chump change why didnt they just pay it at the point when the employees right’s tribunal made the judgement …. Why did they appeal paying out the CHUMP CHANGE?

    Reply
    • VoR August 24, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Thank you. If it was an insignificant amout they wouldn’t have gone through the process of appealing the outcome.

      Reply
  8. Sheron Inniss August 24, 2017 at 9:10 am

    @ Carson C Cadogan. That is not always the case. If you don’t ask for it you have to foot the bill yourself. That was my experience.

    Reply
  9. Anthony Prescott August 24, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Crank, the wheels of justice have moved for Mr Harris….these big corporations get away with tooo much !!

    Reply
  10. Carlisle norville August 24, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I would like to say a very thanks ,to justice of appeal Sandra Mason who I appeared before many many yrs ago ,& I was pleasantly surprised by her fairness ,& the fact that she dismissed the case against me. ( thanks agaiinjusatice Mason) Chefette not only got the GOOD connections ,but they got people in their pockets, talking about halute or what ever his name is

    Reply
  11. milli watt August 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    want to know about the other 300 cases languishing within the bowels of the ERT. Since 2012 4 have been completed that is on average 1 each year now if I apply that to the balance then it will take 300 years to complete the others with 5 more being added daily.

    Reply
  12. Donild Trimp August 24, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    @ milli watt –

    “want to know about the other 300 cases languishing within the bowels of the ERT”

    Geeze Milli, is it really that bad?

    – and only 1 being completed per year since 2012?

    That is Barbados for yuh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  13. Alex Alleyne August 24, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    And it’s about time that “HOME OWNERS” file law suits against these rip-off-artist who call them selves ARTISANS.

    Reply
  14. Rodney August 24, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Hopefully that would wakeup many Human Resources (Personnel Managers) who think the job is just to hire & fire!

    Reply

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