Sisters win appeal over casino dismissal - Friday 21st of October 2005

The Court of Appeal yesterday confirmed two rulings of the Industrial Tribunal and awarded two sisters a total of Lm10,200 between them after establishing that the women had been unlawfully dismissed from their work.

Yesterdays judgments were delivered following appeals lodged by Dragonara Casino Ltd from two rulings of the tribunal in the cases filed by Sharon and Alison Fiorentino.

The sisters had claimed that they were unlawfully dismissed from their work as dealers at the Dragonaro Casino.

The tribunal heard that the two women, who were university students, were employed as dealers at the casino in February 2000 on a definite contract of employment. They were then promoted to Dealer 1.

In December 2000 they again contracted with the casino for a 12-month period. The women claimed that on the expiry of the second contract they were to be employed on an indefinite basis, but in May 2003 they were served with a notice of termination from their jobs.

The company claimed that the sisters had been dismissed because they had failed to fulfil their full-time work commitments.

The sisters were supposed to work on a full-time basis in summer and on a part-time basis in the winter. However, according to the company, they had unilaterally decided that they would provide their services to the casino on a part-time basis only.

In its rulings the tribunal noted that the company had to be strict on its employees duties in order to provide a service to its clients.

The company had always upheld requests by university students who had to study, sit for exams or resits.

The tribunal concluded that it was not morally convinced that the two sisters had failed to perform their duties to the company, and it ruled that they had been unjustly dismissed.

The tribunal awarded each of the sisters Lm5,100 by way of compensation.

Dragonara Casino Ltd appealed from both rulings of the tribunal to the Court of Appeal presided over by Mr Justice Philip Sciberras.

In its judgment delivered yesterday, the Court of Appeal noted that in essence the tribunals rulings were based upon an appreciation of the facts and that this was not subject to the review of the courts.

An appeal could only be filed from an award of the Industrial Tribunal on points of law.

Mr Justice Sciberras said that it was difficult for a judge to determine what constituted a point of law and what was a point of fact, as there were no guidelines to follow, but everything depended upon the circumstances of the particular case.

The company had alleged that the tribunal had exceeded its jurisdiction. The tribunal had not restricted itself to the grounds of unlawful dismissal but had found that the sisters ought to have been re-employed by the company after termination of employment.

However, the court ruled that this ground of appeal was unfounded, for the tribunal had clearly ruled that the sisters employment had been unlawfully terminated.

The court therefore dismissed the appeals and confirmed the rulings of the Industrial Tribunal.

Lawyers Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and Owen Bonnici appeared for the sisters

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