DOMINICA-Caribbean Court of Justice rules in favour of dismissed radio station manager


The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Friday ruled that the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation (BDC) should pay its former general manager EC$52,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) in damages for wrongful termination of her services.

In addition, the CCJ, the island’s highest court, awarded Mariette Warrington costs at the CCJ, estimated at EC$37,800, and prescribed costs in the High Court and Court of Appeal after

The CCJ ruled that Warrington should be paid the equivalent of six months’ salary, gratuity and holiday pay totalling EC$52,3000 as damages. The DBC had paid her one month’s salary and an honorarium when they terminated her, and the High Court and the Court of Appeal had upheld these payments.

In her application before the CCJ, the former general manager had requested payment of her salary for the remaining years of her contract.

However, the CCJ found she had not proved that loss and decided that “Ms. Warrington would have been entitled to the six months’ salary in lieu of notice and this amount is to be regarded in law as agreed liquidated damages”

At the root of this dispute was whether Warrington’s appointment was valid. She had served DBC under two consecutive employment contracts as the general manager which ended in 2008.

However, before the end of the last contract she wrote a letter requesting further employment with the Corporation as general manager “under similar terms and conditions” with an increased salary and protection against arbitrary termination.

DBC never responded to this request and at a board meeting, some months before the contract ended, a decision was taken unanimously to re-appoint her but this decision was never communicated to the former general manager.

The DBC board then decided to advertise the position of general manager and Warrington was the only applicant who applied for the position.

The CCJ heard that the Corporation did not respond to her application and after her contract ended she kept performing the functions as general manager and even wrote to the chairman of the DBC board inquiring about her employment status.

But after 15 months as performing the duties of general manager, in March 2010, she received a letter informing her that she was on a month to month contract and was terminated in the subsequent month.

In her challenge before the High Court and the Court of Appeal, they courts ruled that the purported contract of employment was invalid for non-compliance with the statutory provision that requires the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation’s Board to act on the advice of the Prime Minister in appointing its managers.

The Courts did not regard as significant the fact that, on 17th February 2009, the Board met with the Prime Minister and discussed “the matter” of Warrington’s appointment.

“It is most revealing that neither the Board nor the Minister (of Information) mentioned asking for the Prime Minister’s advice on the selection of Ms. Warrington as Manager. It appears the Board and Minister took it as a given that he approved of her continuing as Manager,” the CCJ noted.

It said that the board minutes bolstered the finding that the issue that engaged the board and the Prime Minister was the length of the contract to give Warrington rather than the Prime Minister’s approval of her continuing in the role. The CCJ found that Ms Warrington’s appointment was therefore valid.

The President of the Court, Justice Saunders, in a concurring judgment, noted that “it was quite inappropriate for the Board, unilaterally and belatedly, to seek to impose a one month notice period. Apart from its inappropriateness, that period was unreasonably short”.

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