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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Court orders GTBoard to reinstate staff

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By Tabora Bojang

A high court judge has ordered the Gambia Tourism Board to reinstate a former staff with immediate effect and pay him all his salaries and allowances with effect from April 2022 for wrongfully dismissing him.

Justice Sidi K Jobarteh also declared that the dismissal of Lamin Bojang, who was a senior product development officer at the Board as “wrong, unlawful and of no effect.”

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The court also awarded a cost of D30,000 to Mr Bojang and ordered GT Board against harassing or intimidating him based on any petition written in the past or in respect to the suit he filed against the board.

Bojang filed the case before the High Court in November 2022 against his former employer GT Board for wrongfully terminating his contract.

He was reportedly among GT Board staff who petitioned the National Assembly in 2021 alleging corruption and widespread irregularities in the award of contracts for the construction of ecolodges among other things. The Board and the Ministry of Tourism denied any wrongdoing and called the allegations false and misleading.

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GT Board director general, Abubacarr Camara told the Assembly during the probe that Bojang got his contract terminated because he sent an email to the management using the phrase “bureaucratic baloney” which they considered a foul language and for which he refused to apologise or withdraw.

Bojang argued in his claims that GT Board has been tirelessly witch-hunting him as the use of the phrase cannot be equated to misconduct that could reasonably warrant the termination of his contract.

In his ruling, the judge said the reason advanced for the termination of Bojang’s contract was unfair  as the email correspondence he sent to the management was not sufficient to terminate his contract and does not in anyway amount to misconduct.

“I therefore hold the termination of service of the plaintiff to be unfair and wrong,” Justice Jobarteh ruled.

The court does not find the phrase to be disrespectful or a gross misconduct that should warrant the termination of the plaintiff’s contract of employment. It is also not a  correspondence that should warrant a breach of trust between an employer and employee. Even if the defendant perceived the phrase to be a gross misconduct, the context in which it is used in the email is referring to the plaintiff and not the defendant,” Justice Jobarteh added.

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