Tobago sanitation worker gets back job

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A sanitation worker from Tobago got back his job at the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) after a High Court judge ordered his reinstatement.

On Thursday, Justice Margaret Mohammed ordered the TRHA to reinstate Malaku Kent, of Scarborough, in his former position of sanitation and maintenance worker, starting next Tuesday.

She also ordered the authority to pay the costs of his judicial review claim.

Kent, of Gardenside Street, joined the TRHA in 2012. He went on vacation in 2019, but was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine on January 18. He was remanded in prison for four months and pleaded guilty on May 27 at the magistrates’ court. Kent was fined $13,000.

He returned to work on May 28 and told his supervisor he was in prison from January 18, when he was arrested, to May 27, when he pleaded guilty to the offence. He also provided a letter from the prison to substantiate his claim he was at the Tobago prison.

In his lawsuit, Kent said tried getting answers from the TRHA after he was told to stay away from work until the human resource department contacted him. When he received no further communication, his attorneys Martin George and Keshavi Khoorban wrote to the authority asking for an explanation, his reinstatement and for compensation for the period he was not allowed to return to the job.

After still receiving no response, Kent filed a judicial review claim against the authority for failing and refusing to reinstate him.

At trial, his attorneys argued the TRHA acted unfairly and unjustly by failing to give a proper explanation for not reinstating him. They also argued the authority’s actions breached the principles of natural justice, as it decided not to reinstate him on the job without holding a disciplinary hearing, nor did it respond to his many requests for information.

In defence of Kent’s lawsuit, the TRHA’s attorneys asked for his lawsuit to be struck out and argued it would be detrimental to good administration to take him back on the job.

Mohammed ruled in favour of Kent and ordered the authority to reinstate him and pay his costs.