Attorney Wayne Munroe, QC.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A SUPREME Court judge has ordered that 24 people fired from the Gaming Board in 2017 be reinstated and/or damages paid to them, according to lawyer Wayne Munroe.
Justice Indra Charles' ruling is among the first to challenge parts of the Minnis administration's termination exercises that followed the 2017 general election.
Mr Munroe told The Tribune yesterday it opens the door for others who were fired after the election to potentially see their termination reversed.
While his lawyers are calculating how much is now owed to the plaintiffs, he previously said his clients would seek $2.7m in exemplary damages.
Thirty former Gaming Board employees took legal action in 2018 after receiving termination letters between November 1, 2017 and December 13, 2017. They argued the Gaming Board failed to comply with Section 26A of the Employment Act, which outlines redundancy procedures like discussing steps to avoid redundancy with the relevant union.
Palincia Hunter, the Munroe & Associates lawyer who represented the plaintiffs, said of the 24 people ordered reinstated, ten were managerial staff and 14 were from the bargaining unit of the Gaming Board. She said Justice Charles also ordered that two fired contract workers be paid the balance of their contracts and damages. However, the judge did not order that plaintiffs on probationary contracts be reinstated or given damages because the law lets them be terminated without notice, she said.
"(The government) purported to terminate workers based on Section 29 of the Employment Act which allows for termination without notice and in lieu of notice payment of the requisite severance," she said. "But based on the wording of their termination letters, Mr Munroe concluded it was a redundancy procedure that was triggered, not a termination procedure. In that case, the requirements are different. The judge agreed that the procedures taken should not have fallen under Section 29 and that it is the Employment Act amendment Section 26A that it should have fallen under."
Mr Munroe said this is the first time a case has been tried under that provision of the Employment Act, which was enacted in 2017 by the former Christie administration.
"If someone was terminated or downsized from the public service, they could look and see where they fall with respect to the ruling and determine whether they have a right to be vindicated," he said.
In 2017, then Gaming Board Chairman Kenyatta Gibson said the 30 employees were fired following a manpower assessment at the agency. He said the workers were "ill-suited for the modern-day requirements of our current regulatory regime."