General News of Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Source: Graphic Online
The Industrial and Labour Division of the Accra High Court has declared the termination of the appointment of Mr Nelson Menorkpor as Director of Administration of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in 2011 as unlawful and unjustified.
Mr Menorkpor’s appointment was terminated in 2011 for alleged incompetence and misconduct in the discharge of his duties as the administrator of the hospital, but the court said the action of the management of the hospital was unlawful and unjustified.
Based on that, the court ordered the hospital to pay Mr Menorkpor six months’ salary as damages for wrongful dismissal and interest on the award of damages from the date of judgement to the date of final payment.
It also awarded costs of GHc10,000 in favour of Mr Menorkpor.
The plaintiff was a senior management member of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital who was appointed Director of Administration in May 2010 and was to serve a one-year probation.
By a letter dated September 1, 2011, his appointment was revoked, effective September 5, 2011, and he sought a declaration that the purported revocation of his appointment by the defendant was wrongful and illegal.
The court declared as null and void and of no effect the letter written by the defendant to the plaintiff on September 1, 2011 revoking the plaintiff’s appointment with the defendant.
Following his dismissal, Mr Menorkpor initiated an action at the court for a declaration that the termination of his appointment was wrongful and unfair.
He also prayed for an order for the payment of his salary from 2010 to the date of final judgement as well as costs.
The plaintiff was an employee of the defendant, the latter being a teaching hospital established under the laws of Ghana.
He worked with defendant from 1999 and rose through the ranks until his last appointment as Director of Administration, effective May 1, 2010. He was to serve a one-year probation.
By a letter dated September 2011, his appointment was revoked, effective September 5, 2011.
The plaintiff contended that the defendant, without any reasonable cause, purported to revoke his appointment for alleged unsatisfactory performance.
He averred that throughout the probationary period, his attention was never drawn to any unsatisfactory performance by the defendant and that the revocation was wrongful and illegal.
He also contended that the purported revocation of his appointment by the defendant was actuated by malice.
Particulars of malice
The plaintiff said the chairman of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Board had earlier told journalists on a radio programme when he was confronted with the issue of payment of salary top-up to him that he knew it was the plaintiff who was behind the story because the board had decided not to confirm the plaintiff’s appointment.
That the chairman of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Board revealed the board’s intention not to confirm the plaintiff’s appointment even before the board wrote to the plaintiff.
It was the plaintiff’s case that the defendant’s action amounted to dismissal and he ought to have been given a hearing before the defendant took its action.
He also contended that there was never a properly and legally convened meeting of the board of directors to take a decision to revoke his appointment and that his dismissal smacked of hatred and victimisation by the defendant.
It was the defendant’s case that at the end of the probation period, it initiated a series of activities to assess the performance of all directors appointed the previous year, including the plaintiff.
It contended that the plaintiff had knowledge of and actually participated in all those exercises aimed at reviewing his performance during the probation period, which process ended in August 2011.
The defendant, in its defence, said at the end of the exercise, it emerged that the plaintiff’s performance was unsatisfactory, hence the decision to revoke his appointment by the board at an emergency board meeting held purposely for that.
It contended that the board, on several occasions, had to draw the plaintiff’s attention to the quality of his work throughout the probation period.
After a full trial, however, the court found that the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital failed in its quest to prove the allegations of misconduct levelled against Mr Menorkpor.
It also found that the summary termination of Mr Menorkpor’s appointment by the defendant was contrary to the statutory provisions relating to the termination of employment on grounds of misconduct, hence wrongful.
The court ruled that the plaintiff had discharged the burden it assumed in proving that the defendant’s action was in contravention of provisions in the Labour Act relating to termination on grounds of misconduct and the rules of natural justice.