Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Andrews hospital stays silent - Hospital mum even as criticisms mount over warning that persons can be fired for fornication or adultery

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2016 | 6:00 AMErica Virtue
Andrews Memorial Hospital on Hope Road, St Andrew.

There has been no word yet from the administrators of the Corporate Area-based Andrews Memorial Hospital, despite mounting criticisms over its warning to staff that they could face disciplinary action, including dismissal, for fornication or adultery.

The Sunday Gleaner was told that a meeting would be held late last week and the Seventh-day Adventist-operated hospital would issue a statement following that meeting.

But up to press time yesterday there was no word from the hospital.

This has prompted attorney-at-law Bert Samuels to urge the administrators of the hospital to read and apply the charity offered in St John 8:1-11 to individuals it believes are "fornicators and adulterers".

According to Samuels, the hospital is not operating in the spirit of the law and is not extending the charity expected as part of Christian principles.

"Were Mary the mother of Jesus employed as a female staffer at Andrews Hospital, becoming pregnant and unmarried, as she did, she could have had disciplinary action taken against her, including dismissal," argued Samuels.

He said though conceived by the Holy Spirit, Andrews Hospital would not know how Mary came to be with child while not married and would have viewed her a fornicator.

Andrews Hospital in 2015 circulated a letter outlining to staff members the terms and condition under which they could face disciplinary action, including dismissal.

 

Applied retroactively

 

The Sunday Gleaner was told last week that employees at the hospital before the date the letter was written found that it applied to them retroactively.

Last Friday, one employee told The Sunday Gleaner that "people were flabbergasted when they found that it was applied retroactively".

For Samuels, that is a decision that can be challenged in the courts.

"In employment contract or any other contract, after the contract is in force, the unilateral imposition of a term is not allowed. So if Andrews did that, or was doing that, they would be in breach of the contract of employment. You can't have a term in a contract that is in conflict with the Maternity Leave Law. And if you break the Maternity Leave Law there are criminal sanctions," said Samuels.

In the meantime, attorney-at-law Mark-Paul Cowan, who last week argued that the hospital was entitled to its position, told our news team that he has been receiving some heat for his comments.

According to Cowan, he was not supporting an employment contract that would be in breach of the law. "My contribution to this debate was only for the purposes of giving a legal perspective on morality clauses, or honour codes as they are commonly referred to. I take no stance on principle with the hospital and I express no views on the efficacy or the alleged backwardness of its values.

"I certainly would not condone the degrading treatment of persons required to enter their place of work through the 'back door' out of shame ..." said Cowan.

Andrews Hospital has indicated that among the breaches for which employees could be dismissed or have disciplinary action against them are fornication, adultery, lewd and lascivious behaviour, theft and murder.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com