The Court of Appeal on Friday restored an Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) ruling that Carlene Spencer, a laboratory technician who was dismissed by the University of Technology (UTech) in 2006, should be reinstated.
Supreme Court Judge Ingrid Mangatal, in April 2010, had quashed the IDT's ruling.
Spencer was accused by UTech of going on vacation leave in 2006 without permission and was subsequently dismissed. She claimed she was given oral permission by her supervisor.
The University and Allied Workers Union challenged the dismissal and took the issue to the IDT, which ruled that her dismissal was unjustified and she should be reinstated.
UTech applied to the Supreme Court for an order to quash the IDT's ruling and Justice Ingrid Mangatal granted an order quashing the IDT's ruling.
The IDT and the union appealed the Supreme Court ruling.
Attorney-at-law Lisa White, from the Director of State Proceedings who represented the IDT, and attorney-at-law Wendell Wilkins, who represented the union, argued that the judge misdirected herself as to the role of the IDT. The lawyers argued that the judge misdirected herself as to the function, powers and remit of the IDT as outlined in the Labour Relations and Industrial disputes Act.
In allowing the appeal, the court said that the IDT asked the correct question - namely, was Spencer's absence from work unauthorised? The court said the IDT heard the various witnesses on the issue and concluded that Spencer's vacation leave for the period June 5, 2006 to July 20, 2006 was authorised and approved.
The court said that was a finding of fact and there was ample evidence to support it.
Spencer did not sign a leave form when she went on leave but she said her supervisor, Michael Bramwell, had given her oral approval. The leave form was signed by Bramwell and the leave officer.
The court held that the IDT rejected Bramwell's explanation for signing the leave form and accepted Spencer's testimony that Bramwell had given her oral approval of the leave and she omitted to sign the relevant portion of the form by oversight.