Former NBS manager wins wrongful dismissal suit

– court orders compensation for loss or earnings, benefits

Saying that former New Building Society (NBS) Manager Maurice Arjoon was “wrongfully dismissed,” Justice Brassington Reynolds yesterday found that he is entitled to recover all benefits that were lost as a result of the decision.

Justice Reynolds, delivering the long-awaited ruling on Arjoon’s suit against the NBS in the High Court in Georgetown, said Arjoon is to be compensated accordingly for severance benefits, pension and loss of earnings.

The court ordered that severance be paid in accordance with the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act, while the loss of earnings is to cover the period from dismissal to six months later, when Arjoon would have been retiring—June, 2007 to February, 2008.

Maurice Arjoon

Loss of earnings are to be paid at an interest of 6% per annum and 4% from date of judgement.

The payment of all outstanding leave passage and allowances were also awarded to Arjoon.

The specific computation of monetary award is to be made by the court today.

At the conclusion of his ruling, Justice Reynolds had ordered that the plaintiff be compensated but did not give the exact amount to be paid over to Arjoon by the NBS.

Both Arjoon’s attorney, Senior Counsel Edward Luckhoo, and counsel for the bank, Senior Counsel Ashton Chase, noted that it is standard procedure that the court makes the computation.

Luckhoo added that it would be quite unlikely that he and Chase would ever agree on the amount to be paid. As a result, the court said that the computation will be done and made available to both parties today.

NBS was also ordered to pay costs to Arjoon in the sum of $200,000.

 

‘No evidence’

In a more than one-hour judgement delivered from the bench, Justice Reynolds, referencing case law and other jurisprudential authorities, said the court found no evidence to substantiate the NBS’s claims that Arjoon committed gross or serious misconduct, warranting his dismissal.

The judge said that it showed no established rules, standards or procedures stipulated in its manual, which Arjoon was guilty of breaching.

The court noted that by its own admission, NBS, during the trial, acknowledged that there existed poor systemic procedures of adequate checks and balance for detecting gross or serious misconduct, such as that levelled against Arjoon.

The judge pointed out that the NBS highlighted that its systemic procedures were improved only after charges were instituted against Arjoon. The court noted that it was unfair for Arjoon to have been dismissed when the bank had no systems in place to have proved that he was guilty of any wrongdoing.

Justice Reynolds asserted that such determinations could not be made according to a “Peter pay for Paul and Paul pay for all,” standard.

Acknowledging and apologising for the long overdue judgement, the judge said that a number of administrative commitments militated against an earlier delivery. Justice Reynolds attributed the delay to his involvement with the establishment of the Family Court last year, coupled with his role as logistics officer on the local organising committee for the Commonwealth of Courts. He noted, also, recent personal family tragedies in the loss of both his son and mother.

On June 12, 2007, Arjoon and two other managers, Kent Vincent, Operations Manager and Kissoon Baldeo, Assistant Mortgage Manager, had their services terminated after $69 million was discovered missing from the account of Bibi Khan.

Arjoon was interdicted from duty before being dismissed. The trio, along with several other employees of the bank, were charged in the matter but they were later freed after Khan repeatedly failed to attend court hearings.

After the charge against him was thrown out, Arjoon subsequently filed the lawsuit against the society, for wrongful dismissal.

Late Ombudsman Justice Winston Moore had concluded that the three managers suffered a “grave injustice” as he found that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the trio was guilty, let alone to successfully prosecute them.

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