A worker at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation has lost his legal battle over being summarily demoted from his position at a preliminary stage.
Delivering a decision late last month, High Court Judge Carol Gobin upheld an application from the corporation’s lawyers to refuse Ronnie Mohammed leave to pursue his judicial review lawsuit against it.
In the application, the corporation claimed that the case could not be pursued as Mohammed was not challenging a statutory decision.
It also contended that Mohammed had an alternative remedy, as he was included under the corporation’s collective agreement for employees and could challenge his transfer via an established grievance procedure.
The corporation also claimed the lawsuit was filed outside the statutory limit in September last year, as the transfer occurred in May 2019.
Gobin agreed and refused to grant leave. Her official order was issued by the High Court Registry this week.
However, Guardian Media understands that Mohammed filed a separate case against the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW) over its handling of his grievance.
Mohammed won the case and was awarded a little over $60,000 in compensation.
Last month, Mohammed and his attorney Richard Jaggassar went to NUGFW’s headquarters in Port-of-Spain with bailiffs and court marshalls to seize the union’s assets after it reportedly failed to meet deadlines for paying the compensation.
The matter was quickly settled, as the union made the payment and narrowly avoided the court-supervised seizure.
According to the evidence in the case against the corporation, Mohammed, who had been employed as a checker for almost 15 years, was transferred to the corporation’s Stores Department.
Mohammed challenged the transfer, which he suggested was a demotion as he would no longer be able to claim a travelling allowance and receive overtime for working on public holidays.
Mohammed was told that he was transferred because he had work outstanding from his previous position.
Mohammed allegedly completed the work within a set time frame but told that he was also responsible for work left outstanding by his former subordinates.
He claimed that he spoke to his former co-workers, who completed their task but he still was not reinstated.
“All this made the Intended Applicant feel as if he was being pushed around, delayed and abused,” Jaggasar claimed in his court filings.
Through the lawsuit, Mohammed was seeking declarations against the decision to transfer him and an order compelling his reinstatement.
The corporation was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Renuka Rambhajan, Jared Jagroo and Alana Rambaran.
Mohammed was ordered to pay the corporation’s legal costs for defending the lawsuit.