Recently the Court of Appeal presided by Madam Justice Edwina Grima confirmed a compensatory sum awarded by the Industrial Tribunal to a British High Commission employee for unfair dismissal and discrimination. In a nutshell, the applicant, Ms Glynis Valerie Pace was first employed as a personal assistance to the Senior Commercial officer at the British High Commission in 1999 and in May 2008 Ms Pace was informed that her employment was being terminated on the basis of redundancy.
Ms Pace declared that the reasons for termination provided for by the British High Commission were ill-founded since she was not deemed to be redundant in terms of the law. Moreover, she also held that her employer had breached her contract of employment terms.
The Court of Appeal responded to Ms Pace’s claims and referred to the case of Jackie Jordan v. British High Commission which was deemed by the Court to be rather similar to the case present before it since they are both pertinent to the principle of unequal treatment at the work place. Naturally, the Court of Appeal confirmed that on the basis of the facts of the case Ms Pace should be given a compensatory sum. The Court rebutted its conclusion by highlighting the fact that when a particular issue arises with respect to violations of fundamental human rights, the Court is duty bound to protect those rights which are specifically catered for by the Constitution of Malta and by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Moreover, the Court stated that the claimant was discriminated against since other employees who were also made redundant received a redundancy payment. Thus, the Court referred to the above mentioned case of Jordan and held that it is necessary to point out that Council Directive 2000/78/EC on Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation, along with Council Directive 2000/43/EC on Racial Equality must be adhered to not just with regards to the conditions of work but also in conjunction with remuneration and termination issues.
Madam Justice Edwina Grima also agreed with the Tribunal’s decision with respect to the genuineness of the reasons of redundancy provided by the respondent. It was concluded that proof was not presented to sustain Ms Pace’s claim that she was made redundant on ill-founded basis. In fact, a witness revealed documentary evidence confirming that the commercial section within the Commission was to be closed down due to commercial inactivity.
The Court of Appeal confirmed the Industrial Tribunal’s award of €35,000 in compensation as a result of unfair dismissal and discrimination towards Ms Pace. This award was confirmed on the basis that the Employment and Industrial Relations Act is bestowed with an element of economic and social protection towards employees. This awareness does not only emanate from the various Directives which have been implemented locally but also from the provisions of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act.