(CMR) Two doctors have filed separate lawsuits against the Centre for Women, Family and Child Health Ltd for wrongful dismissal and breach of employment contract.
Dr. Christine Chen has filed a lawsuit for over $500,000, while Dr. Ayanna Ennis has filed a lawsuit for about $100,000 after they were both terminated on 21 December 2023.
According to both lawsuits, the doctors were told they were being terminated due to financial constraints; however, the court documents said this was not so as the facility is in process of hiring two doctors, one of whom is scheduled to start on or around March/April 2024.
According to the court document filed by Dr. Chen, on 21 December 2023, the Centre for Women, Family and Child Health Ltd wrongfully and unfairly terminated her employment in breach of sections 50 and 51 of the Labour Act (2021 Revision) and in breach of contract.
The Termination Letter, dated 21 December 2023, stated that Dr Chen was being terminated for “financial constraints” and that one month’s notice was being given. However, the termination date was stated to be 14 January 2024 despite the Termination Letter being dated 21 December 2023.
Termination was done despite being aware that the doctor was on sick leave from 15 December 2023 until 20 December 2023 and on vacation leave from 21 December to 11 January 2024. Therefore, she did not receive the Termination Letter until she returned to office on 11 January 2024. Hence, the medical center failed to give adequate notice to the Plaintiff.
Dr. Ennis also claims inadequate notice as she received the termination letter on 22 December, with her expected date of 14 January, despite the facility claiming it was giving a one-month notice.
According to the court document filed by Dr. Chen, the Centre for Women, Family and Child Health Ltd has not paid salary to the date of dismissal, severance pay under Section 40 of the Labour Act, and damages for the wrongful dismissal.
In regards to the breach of contract, the lawsuit states that under the terms of the contract of employment between the health center and Dr. Chen, the facility is obligated to pay inter alia a salary of CI$16,000 per month to the Plaintiff, payable monthly in arrears on the last working day of each month.
The facility is also obligated to pay inter alia a salary of CI$14,000 per month to Dr. Ennis, payable monthly in arrears on the last working day of each month.
The medical facility is also accused of breaching the contract of employment with Dr. Chen by failing to pay her salary on time or at all between Aug 2018 to January 2024; pay and maintain the Plaintiff’s medical malpractice insurance from 30 September 2023; pay the employer’s portion of the pension contributions to the Company’s pension plan on behalf of the Plaintiff from June 2019 to March 2020 and October 2022 to January 2024; and pay health insurance premiums for the Plaintiff for the period October 2019 to January 2024; pay the annual RERC fee.
In addition to being in breach of contract, the facility has been acting in breach of the Labour Act (2021 Revision), Health Insurance Act (2021 Revision), and National Pensions Act (2012 Revision) for several years, the lawsuit states.
It also claims that the health facility's failure to pay and maintain the Plaintiff’s medical malpractice insurance resulted in the loss of patients; lost privileges at the Health Services Authority hospital; irreparable damage to the Plaintiff’s reputation and professional relationships within the medical fraternity and with patients; mental distress and damage to the Plaintiff’s self-esteem and morale; and the Plaintiff incurring additional expense to procure malpractice insurance independently.
The lawsuit claims that the failure to pay the Dr Chen’s salary and benefits caused undue mental and financial stress, anxiety, and loss of sleep to the Plaintiff.
It also claimed that the actions of Dr. Awardnath Howard Deosaran, who was named as the second defendant, towards Dr. Chen created a stressful work environment for her and caused her to suffer sleepless nights, headaches, and stress-related issues.
Dr. Ennis also claims that the facility's failure to pay salary and benefits has caused her to suffer undue stress and anxiety and that she was subjected to embarrassment and verbal abuse from managing director Dr Deosaran.
The actions of Dr. Deosaran created a hostile work environment and caused her to suffer sleepless nights, headaches, and stress-related illnesses, the court document stated.