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WARRINGTON WINS IN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT DISPUTE AT THE CCJ



0 | 2018-12-03 11:24:00

In Mariette Warrington v Dominica Broadcasting Corporation, the
Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) today decided that Ms. Warrington, a former General Manager of
the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation (DBC), should be paid the equivalent of six months’ salary,
gratuity and holiday pay totalling EC$52,300 as damages. 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. At the CCJ, she 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 Ms Warrington’s appointment was valid. She had served the
organisation under two consecutive employment contracts as the General Manager which ended in
2008. 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. 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 Ms. Warrington, although she later learned of it.
Later the board decided to advertise the position of General Manager and Ms. Warrington applied for
the position. She was the only applicant; however, the Corporation did not respond to her application.
After the contract had ended Ms. Warrington was kept performing as General Manager, and early in
the new period, she wrote to the Chairman of the board to inquire about her employment status but
again received no answer. After some fifteen months performing as General Manager, in March 2010,
the employee received a letter informing her that she was on a month to month contract and was
terminated in the subsequent month.
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134 HENRY STREET
PORT OF SPAIN
REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Telephone: (868) 623-2CCJ Fax: (868) 624-4710
Website: www.ccj.org
Public Education and Communications Unit
Tel: (868) 623-2225 extns. 2296, 2226
Email: pecu@ccj.org
Ms. Warrington’s claim for damages for the wrongful termination of her engagement was unsuccessful
in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The courts below decided 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. They did not regard as significant the fact that, on 17th February 2009, the Board met with
the Prime Minister and discussed “the matter” of the Ms. Warrington’s appointment.
However, the CCJ noted that “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”. Board minutes bolstered the finding that the issue that engaged the Board and the Prime
Minister was the length of the contract to give Ms. 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 CCJ held that Ms. Warrington was entitled to damages calculated by reference to those benefits
for which the former contract provided, including notice of 6 months before termination. The President
of the Court, the Hon. Mr. 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”.
In addition to the damages of $52,300, Ms. Warrington was awarded costs at the CCJ, in the sum of
EC$37,800, and prescribed costs in the High Court and Court of Appeal. Interest was also awarded on
damages at the rate of 5% per annum from the date of the judgment in the High Court, until payment
is made to Ms. Warrington. The full judgment of the Court, and a judgment summary, are available at
www.ccj.org.




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