October 8, 2013

Opposition Leader to appeal order of Hearing Officer

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace said that he is going to appeal the order of the Hearing Officer to compensate his former secretary $16,199.99.{{more}}

Speaking yesterday on the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) radio programme, New Times, Eustace, in response to a question from a caller, said the decision is going to be appealed.

When questioned further by the caller as to why he had made such a decision, the Leader of the Opposition responded that that was his business.

“I’m not going to make that a public matter,” Eustace said.

“… [the matter] will be dealt with in the normal procedures associated with such matters and I have no more comment to make on that,” the Opposition Leader said.

Hearing Officer Cecil M. John, in a letter dated September 30, 2013, addressed to Minister of Labour Maxwell Charles, said that Eustace, in a hearing held on September 27, failed to prove that he had dismissed Rishatta Nicholls for good cause. Eustace was therefore ordered to pay Nicholls severance payment for 12 years of service by October 18, 2013.

Nicholls, who had been employed as secretary to the Leader of the Opposition since August 1, 2001, was dismissed on March 28, 2013, for, according to her termination letter, failure to prepare the Vote Book, loss of confidence by the Opposition Leader in her, and for using part of contributions donated to Elwardo Lynch “for [her] own purposes”.

According to the Protection of Employment Act, the Leader of the Opposition has 21 days following the decision of the Hearing Officer to file his appeal. If no notice is filed within that period, the decision of the Hearing Officer shall be final.

The appeal of the decision of the Hearing Officer will be heard by a Tribunal consisting of three members appointed by the Minister of Labour. There will be a chairman; an assessor, representing workers, to be selected by the Minister from a standing panel of three nominees of recognized workers organizations; and an assessor representing the employer, to be selected by the Minister from a standing panel of three nominees of associations of employers or other body likely to be representative of employers.

After hearing the matter, the Tribunal will have have 21 days to report its decision in writing.

According to the Act, “every order or decision of the Tribunal is final and shall not be questioned or reviewed in any court save and except where judicial review is applicable under any law.”

According to the Act, any employer who fails to comply with a settlement arrived at by the Commissioner, Hearing Officer or Tribunal in pursuance of the provisions of the Act commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000.(DD)