The Industrial Court has dismissed a claim for constructive dismissal on behalf of a warehouse supervisor who claimed she quit her job due to “harsh and oppressive” treatment.
Judges Heather Seale, Indra Rampersad-Suite, Angella Hamel-Smith found no merit in the claim brought by Government Industrial and General Workers Union on behalf of Liza Burnley.
Burnley had started working at Yee Ken Hardware as a warehouse clerk in 2003 and elated to senior warehouse supervisor until her resignation in April 2016.
While employed, however, she received advances on her gratuity totally $34,934 and upon her resignation was paid $17,934 in gratuity.
However, the union through, attorney Newton George, argued that Burnley ought to have been paid $45,000.
The union contended that she resigned because of incidents with the boss`s wife in 2014 and daughter in 2016.
The union submitted that she was maligned and subjected to unsubstantiated vexatious charges which were not properly investigated and that caused her mental stress.
The union also claimed she suffered breaches in her contract of employment which led to a repudiation of her contract of employment. In the circumstances, the union sought an order from the court that she was dismissed or, in the alternative, asked the court to rule that she resigned in “the heat of the moment” and her resignation should not have been accepted by her employer at face value.
The union claimed damages for Burnley amounting to more than $300,000.
The company, represented by attorney Saira Lakhan, countered that Burnley was not unfairly dismissed and had a good relationship with the company prior to her resignations.
The company submitted that her letter of resignation was voluntary, was written at her home and submitted to the company five days after she left her job.
The company further stated that there was no written or oral contract for the sum of $45,000 and she had already benefited from gratuity amounting to $35,934 prior to her resignation.
In their ruling, the judges found that there were a number of contradictions in Burnley witness statements.
“0n the whole, the court finds that the worker was not a credible witness. Her letter of resignation did not indicate any grievances which caused her to leave the job. There was no evidence that it was forced. While she claimed that Mr. Yee Ken asked her for her resignation, in order to receive her gratuity, that does not constitute constructive dismissal but rather as in the Alstons case supra, the court regards it as a voluntary resignation with the proviso to receive gratuity.”
Finding that the employer acted reasonably in paying her gratuity even though she was not retrenched, the judges ruled there was no basis to uplift the payment.