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Bank of Montserrat fails in Labour Tribunal for unfair dismissal

by Staff Reporter

In recent years there have been several unreported cases going through the Labour Tribunal where employers have been found guilty of either dismissing employees unfairly among other unfair treatment meted out to employees. On May 12, 2014 The Bank of Montserrat Ltd. (BOML) was ordered to pay former employee Miss Karen Carlton $42,136.17 in what the Labour Tribunal referred to as a “serious cases of unfair dismissal” by the bank.

In early 2013 the former BOML staff alleged that she was unfairly dismissed by the Bank after working there for just over 5 years. The evidence revealed that Miss Carlton began working with the bank in November 2007 and in less than six months promoted to the position of “Teller”. This new position came with additional responsibilities. Less than one year subsequently she was again promoted to the position of “Night Depository Officer”, to be held concurrently with the position of “Teller”. Miss Carlton was further promoted to the position of “Head Teller” in 2009 because according the bank’s annual appraisal system for the previous year she was the “highest rated staff member”.

The General Manager (GM) Mr. Michael Joseph wrote to Ms. Carlton complaining that “a Social Security cheque for $600.00 was cashed for a customer although the cheque was payable to a third person. Ms. Carlton admitted it was an error and the GM informed Carlton that her performance and behavior was unacceptable and terminated her forthwith. Carlton subsequently sought redress from the Labour tribunal.

Up for consideration were sections 59 and 61 of the Labour Code which speaks to procedure employers should follow when taking disciplinary action and termination on other lawful grounds.

The three panel tribunal chaired by Assistant Magistrate R. A. Shuster gave a seventeen page Judgment and detailed the reasons why the Tribunal unanimously find as fact, that the applicant Karen Carlton was unfairly dismissed from her employment with the Bank of Montserrat as Head Teller in February, 2013.

The tribunal made several findings of fact including that:
• The GM Mr. Joseph failed to apply all proper procedures required BEFORE his decision to dimiss/terminate the employment of the applicant, Karen Carlton from her employment with the bank;

• The decision to dismiss Ms. Carlton was made by the GM after Carlton had challenged the GM concerning his miscalculation of the applicant’s “staff annual bonus”;

• No financial loss was caused to the bank as a result of the encashment of the Social Security cheque;

• The GM Mr. Joseph failed to carry out any proper investigations prior to his decision to unilaterally terminate the applicant’s services;

The tribunal also found that the Bank of Montserrat’s General Manager was not fair and went over and above and outside the law when he unfairly dismissed Karen Carlton. The tribunal also found that he gave misleading evidence and that the Bank failed to prove that it complied fully with the procedures of the Labour Code. In recognizing that Ms. Carlton mitigated her loses by quickly finding employment with another financial institution, the Tribunal awarded her $42,136.17 to include compensation for loss of feelings, holiday pay and monies to cover a loan she took out to complete a Bachelor of Science degree. Ms. Carlton was represented by UK based Attorney Sylvester Carrot while the Bank of Montserrat was represented by Kenneth Allen QC.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by Staff Reporter

In recent years there have been several unreported cases going through the Labour Tribunal where employers have been found guilty of either dismissing employees unfairly among other unfair treatment meted out to employees. On May 12, 2014 The Bank of Montserrat Ltd. (BOML) was ordered to pay former employee Miss Karen Carlton $42,136.17 in what the Labour Tribunal referred to as a “serious cases of unfair dismissal” by the bank.

In early 2013 the former BOML staff alleged that she was unfairly dismissed by the Bank after working there for just over 5 years. The evidence revealed that Miss Carlton began working with the bank in November 2007 and in less than six months promoted to the position of “Teller”. This new position came with additional responsibilities. Less than one year subsequently she was again promoted to the position of “Night Depository Officer”, to be held concurrently with the position of “Teller”. Miss Carlton was further promoted to the position of “Head Teller” in 2009 because according the bank’s annual appraisal system for the previous year she was the “highest rated staff member”.

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The General Manager (GM) Mr. Michael Joseph wrote to Ms. Carlton complaining that “a Social Security cheque for $600.00 was cashed for a customer although the cheque was payable to a third person. Ms. Carlton admitted it was an error and the GM informed Carlton that her performance and behavior was unacceptable and terminated her forthwith. Carlton subsequently sought redress from the Labour tribunal.

Up for consideration were sections 59 and 61 of the Labour Code which speaks to procedure employers should follow when taking disciplinary action and termination on other lawful grounds.

The three panel tribunal chaired by Assistant Magistrate R. A. Shuster gave a seventeen page Judgment and detailed the reasons why the Tribunal unanimously find as fact, that the applicant Karen Carlton was unfairly dismissed from her employment with the Bank of Montserrat as Head Teller in February, 2013.

The tribunal made several findings of fact including that:
• The GM Mr. Joseph failed to apply all proper procedures required BEFORE his decision to dimiss/terminate the employment of the applicant, Karen Carlton from her employment with the bank;

• The decision to dismiss Ms. Carlton was made by the GM after Carlton had challenged the GM concerning his miscalculation of the applicant’s “staff annual bonus”;

• No financial loss was caused to the bank as a result of the encashment of the Social Security cheque;

• The GM Mr. Joseph failed to carry out any proper investigations prior to his decision to unilaterally terminate the applicant’s services;

The tribunal also found that the Bank of Montserrat’s General Manager was not fair and went over and above and outside the law when he unfairly dismissed Karen Carlton. The tribunal also found that he gave misleading evidence and that the Bank failed to prove that it complied fully with the procedures of the Labour Code. In recognizing that Ms. Carlton mitigated her loses by quickly finding employment with another financial institution, the Tribunal awarded her $42,136.17 to include compensation for loss of feelings, holiday pay and monies to cover a loan she took out to complete a Bachelor of Science degree. Ms. Carlton was represented by UK based Attorney Sylvester Carrot while the Bank of Montserrat was represented by Kenneth Allen QC.