Judge rules for credit union employee

VENTURE Credit Union has been ordered to compensate a former employee for breach of her employment contract and wrongful dismissal.

In a recent ruling, Justice Joan Charles ordered the credit union to pay Cavelle Davis the acting allowance she was owed as branch manager, one-month’s salary in lieu of notice and damages in the sum of $162,000, plus interest and costs.

In her decision, the judge found that the credit union breached a clause in Davis’ employment contract by failing to conduct performance appraisals in the time frame provided.

Davis, who was represented by attorney Farai Hove Masaisai, sued the credit union after she was fired in August 2016.

She was offered the position of member service supervisor in February 2016, and told there would be a six-month probationary period during which two performance appraisals would be conducted.

Davis was told a seventy five per cent score of key performance indicators was required and any lower score will result in termination of the contract of employment at management’s discretion.

She was also supposed to receive one-month notice. Davis claimed she was promoted to acting branch manager on April 5, 2016, based on her good performance as member service supervisor. However, she was fired on August 15, 2016, and told she was no longer required to act as branch manager with no reasons being given to her.

She resumed her duties as member services supervisor and on November 30, that year, she was fired, escorted off the premises and not told of her shortcomings or given an opportunity to correct them.

In her decision, the judge held that timely appraisals would have allowed Davis to address any legitimate issues that arose, and the failure to follow this process was unfair to her. This, she added, was compounded by the fact Davis was appointed to act in a higher position during the probationary period, and was entitled to believe she successfully performed as member service supervisor and met the minimum passing grade for approval to that post.

“The claimant was being appraised for her performance as branch manager not member service supervisor,” the judge said, adding that the credit union decided to conduct appraisals after the fact.

In awarding Davis compensation, the judge said, “She was employed in the financial sector where one’s reputation, competence and skill are highly valued. The defendant’s actions of abruptly terminating the claimant’s acting appointment as branch manager served to undermine her professional reputation for competence.”

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