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The Industrial Court has recently ruled in favor of a former kitchen supervisor at Sandals Grande Antigua resort who was fired in 2015 under allegations of stealing cases of shrimp and salmon.
Boycatt Baltimore has been awarded EC$20,121.51 by the hotel to settle the case by February 15.
The matter unfolded in July 2015 when Baltimore was temporarily relocated to the hotel’s butcher shop, where meats and other products were prepared for meals at restaurants on the site.
The products were taken from the hotel’s storeroom upon the request of the hotel’s executive chef. Baltimore was moved temporarily to assist with the butcher’s shop as another employee was on vacation.
On July 20, selected meats were ordered for the butcher shop from the storeroom where a case of shrimp and a case of salmon were taken out, although these were not listed as part of the order.
The following day, an employee from the storeroom, Efical Finch, collected the extra items from the shop and took them to another location.
However, members of the hotel’s security staff later found the shrimp and salmon in a garbage compactor, and the matter was reported to the general manager.
A report was submitted by the security manager with testimony from Finch as to why he removed the items from the butcher shop and placed them at the back of the housing area.
Following this report, the resort’s manager and human resources manager met with Baltimore, who was subsequently suspended with pay for a few days while an in-house investigation was carried out. Baltimore was reportedly told that another meeting would be held upon his return to work.
However, when he returned to work five days after the conclusion of the investigation, he was dismissed.
In the judgment, the court felt that the hotel acted unreasonably by failing to fully involve Baltimore in the investigation, including failing to inform him of the allegations against him, failing to warn him that his employment was in jeopardy, and to provide him with an opportunity to defend himself.
The court also felt that the security manager’s report had overly relied on the words of Finch, who was deemed an unreliable source.
“Based on the contents of the dismissal letter, it is clear to us that the employer relied heavily, if not exclusively, on [the security manager’s] report and rushed to judgment without any sufficient regard for procedural fairness,” the judgment states