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In Sun Beach Hotel case, defence files brief

Oct 20, 2014, 11:31 PM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Lawyer Anna Njie, who was representing Sun Beach Hotel which was sued at the Kanifing Industrial Tribunal by former employees, has filed her brief.

The plaintiffs are Foday Lubang Jarju, Eliman Manneh, Sulayman Sowe, Foday Sanyang, Ramou Demba, Sainabou Jarju, Jainaba Barry and Fatoumata Sowe.

They claimed against the hotel the sum of D133,332 being payment of notice of termination, payment for leave due and the unpaid twelve months salary of one of the employees.

They also claimed for redundancy payment and notice due and unpaid, as well as general damages for statutory breach of contract of employment entered between them and the hotel, and interest.

In her brief, the defence counsel stated that the plaintiffs are former employees of the defendant who were employed in 2002 and 2004, and had their services terminated.

Lawyer Njie added that it was the plaintiffs’ case that on 6 May 2010, the defendant released a memo addressed to all the staff requesting them to apply for 3 or 4 months leave without salary due to the low occupancy rate of the tourist season, which affected the financial situation of the hotel, and that the hotel would consider redundancy at some point for the first time.

She further adduced that the plaintiffs subsequently applied for leave which was granted by the management, and that by a letter dated 3 June 2014, they were further requested by the hotel to apply for another 4 months leave which they accepted, except for the first plaintiff who refused to accept to go on leave or report to work.

She stated that the second plaintiff did not accept to go on leave and requested for his service to be terminated since the hotel was going through financial difficulties, adding that the fourth plaintiff went on unauthorised sick leave from April 2010 to April 2011.

Lawyer Njie argued that the situation of the hotel did not improve, and the defendant decided to terminate the employment contract of the plaintiffs on grounds of operational requirements, except for the first, second and fourth plaintiffs who were terminated on disciplinary grounds.

She further stated that the plaintiffs were paid two months’ salary in lieu of notice, which were received and accepted as their final dues.

“It is our submission that the termination of the plaintiffs’ contracts and payments were done in accordance with clause 9 of their contract of employment,” stated Lawyer Njie.

She further argued that the plaintiffs had not claimed breach of contract or complained of any breach of the terms of their contract of employment by the defendant.

She submitted that claims for breach of contract had not been made, since no claims for breach of contract had been sought from the tribunal.

“The plaintiffs have waived their rights to challenge the termination, having mutually accepted the termination and received their salary benefits,” she further argued.

But the plaintiffs did not agree with Lawyer Njie.

They argued that the fourth plaintiff did not abandon his work, but instead he fell ill at the hotel and was taken to RVTH by the duty manager of the hotel where he was checked and some medicines were given to him.

They further stated that the fourth plaintiff, having checked at the hospital, reported to work but was told to go home when the management realised that he could not work, and that he was admitted at the hospital the following day.

The plaintiffs denied in their brief that they requested for another four months leave without pay, but that instead it was the hotel which sent their driver to issue them with letters for extension of the leave for another four months without salary, after the end of the four months leave without salary they had earlier applied for.

They never signed the letters sent to them for another four months leave without salary, they said.

They denied that they applied or requested for an additional four months leave without salary.

They stated in their brief that the defendant threatened the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth plaintiffs with dismissal, if they did not agree to an extension for another four months leave without salary.

The plaintiffs denied that they wrote to the hotel a letter dated 3 June 2014 requesting for another four months leave without salary.

“We did not accept the two months’ salary in lieu of notice as our final dues,” they argued.

The case was adjourned for adoption of briefs.