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BCC found liable, ordered to pay plaintiff over D200,000

Apr 7, 2015, 11:03 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Magistrate Colley of the Kanifing Industrial Tribunal on 25 March 2015, entered judgment against Banjul City Council (BCC) and ordered it to pay the plaintiff, Lamin Sanyang, D263,880 as compensation for unlawful dismissal.

Lamin Sanyang was also to be paid 10 per cent interest of the total judgment sum and cost of D50,000.

Delivering judgment, Magistrate Colley told the tribunal that by a praecipe dated 14 June 2014, and filed on 10 July 2014, the suit commenced before the Banjul Industrial Tribunal, but was subsequently transferred to the Kanifing Industrial Tribunal when issues of likelihood of bias were raised.

The plaintiff’s claim against the defendant was for a declaration that the dismissal of the plaintiff by the defendant was unlawful.

The plaintiff also claimed payment of financial entitlement up to retiring age of 60 years, damages for breach of contract, and interest at the rate of 25 per cent per annum from 5 April 2012 to date of judgment and, thereafter, statutory interest of 4 per cent to date of final liquidation and costs.

Lamin Sanyang earlier testified that he was employed by the defendant as a recovery clerk on 10 June 2002 and dismissed on 10 April 2012.

In September 2002, he was promoted as Revenue Inspector and posted at the Albert Market in Banjul.

On 29 June 2010, he discovered some financial malpractices and reported it to the accountant at the Albert Market.

Mr Sanyang adduced that because he reported the malpractices, it caused some grievance between him and the administration of the council.

On 9 and 11 August 2011, one Ebou Drammeh called him and said that what he (plaintiff) was advising them had come to light, adding that the administration of the council and the Financial Director were offended by the report and his subsequent reports were disregarded.

Mr Sanyang further told the tribunal that he applied for a loan of D7,000 and it was approved, but when it reached the former mayor’s desk, it got blocked.

He went on to say that he was suspended for two weeks without pay, and when he returned from the suspension, he was transferred to the Anti-littering Department as a supervisor.

He revealed that when he went to the Chief Executive Officer to ask about his job description, the CEO asked him to proceed with his work as Anti-littering supervisor.

In that job, he caught some offenders who were fined.

He said after some time, the Financial Director called him into his office and asked him to stop going to the field, until his identity card was ready.

Mr Sanyang testified that he started reporting to the office on time, adding that he was never issued the identity card nor the job description, and was dismissed on 5 April 2012.

He worked for the defendant for almost 10 years, and was dismissed without a hearing, at the age of 41 years.

His net salary was D2,199.33 at the time of dismissal.

Magistrate Colley, while continuing to deliver his judgment, said the defendant was not diligent with the case, and the Tribunal, pursuant to Rules 10 of the Industrial Tribunal Rules, exercised its discretion to proceed with the case notwithstanding the defendant’s absence, citing the ruling of the Tribunal delivered on 19 June 2014.

He added that the right to a fair hearing does not mean a right to a protracted trial, and that it means a reasonable opportunity to state or present one’s case within a reasonable time.

He referred to some authorities to support the judgment.

Magistrate Colley stated that despite the absence of the defendant, the law is that the plaintiff could only succeed on the strength of his case.

He stated further that by a letter dated 5 April 2012, the plaintiff was dismissed with immediate effect, adding that the plaintiff was not given audience to defend himself on the allegation of neglect of duties that resulted in his dismissal.

He further said that pursuant to Section 85 (1) (b) of the Labour Act, the defendant has the prerogative to summarily dismiss the plaintiff on the grounds of habitual or substantial neglect, through absence or otherwise, of his or her duties.

However, the plaintiff did, in certain terms, give account of events before his dismissal, adding that the Tribunal was convinced and found the plaintiff’s version of the story credible, and that he was unlawfully dismissed.

“The law is that when a person has been unlawfully dismissed, he can only be given compensation to cover a reasonable period within which, at his age and experience, he is reasonably expected to get a similar employment,” Magistrate Colley told the Tribunal.

Lawyer Sidney Riley represented Lamin Sanyang; Edrissa Sissoho represented BCC.