NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Court of Appeal has set aside an Industrial Tribunal’s unfair dismissal award of $6,068 to a 25-year veteran of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), who had been terminated for “lewd sexual activity” in the company’s cashier’s cage.
Simone Fitzcharles, the Industrial Tribunal’s vice president, had ruled last year that Sherry Jennifer Brown, a former BPL cashier, receive $6,067.80 — a mere 10 percent of what she would normally have received — due to the fact that her actions significantly contributed to her firing from the company.
In the judgment delivered by Justice Milton Evans, the Court of Appeal found that the respondent — Brown — had been provided with “adequate means and opportunity to raise issues of mitigation”.
Finding that there had been no unfairness on BPL’s part in relation to Brown’s dismissal, the appellate court noted: “The appellants (BPL) complied fully with the disciplinary procedures as they were required to do.
“The decision to terminate was not too harsh in the circumstances of this case as the established conduct was egregiously inconsistent with behavior expected from the respondent as a seasoned employee stationed in a public place as a representative of the appellants.”
Brown’s dismissal had come as a result of her allowing a male Post Office employee, identified as Kim Ferguson, to enter the company’s cashier’s cage, which was a restricted area and only accessible to certain employees. The infractions occurred on four separate occasions over a 12-day period in April 2016 and was captured on the company’s security cameras positioned inside and outside of the cashier’s cage.
According to the evidence, Ferguson accessed the cashier’s cage when Brown gave him access, and on others, when the entry/exit door was left unlocked by individuals working in the cashier’s cage.
In addition to Ferguson’s access to the cashier’s cage, the video footage showed Ferguson and Brown engaged in activities of an intimate nature with each other while other employees worked at their desks. Brown admitted she did the acts for which she was dismissed.
It was further noted: “Based on the camera footage, Mr Ferguson’s main reason for visiting the cage was to find Ms Brown for the purposes of chatting closely, groping, kissing, touching intimate parts of the body and Ms. Brown exposed private areas of her body.”