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Woman speaks of relief at clearing her name after winning case over unfair dismissal

Lawyer Juliana Snelling

A dental hygienist who won a judgment for unfair dismissal against her former employer spoke yesterday about her relief at clearing her name.

Catherine Araujo will receive compensation of $53,015 from the dental clinic where she worked for more than six years.

She told The Royal Gazette: “I am so grateful that I have cleared my name and kept my reputation intact.”

Mrs Araujo claimed her summary dismissal in May 2021 was unfair and unlawful.

Several other former employees of the dental clinic provided statements in support of her case.

The labour dispute was due to be heard by an employment tribunal on Monday but the matter was postponed for a day because of Tropical Storm Alex.

Tribunal chairwoman Charlene Scott told yesterday’s hearing that she was glad that nature had intervened because it “gave everybody some breathing space”.

The chairwoman said the matter was resolved after the dental clinic agreed to a public judgment in Mrs Araujo’s favour, along with the compensation award.

The $53,015 comprises the maximum compensation of six months wages payable under the Employment Act, plus payment in lieu of Mrs Araujo’s two-month notice period.

Ms Scott, sitting on the panel with Ed Ball and Clevelyn Crichlow, imposed a reporting restriction under section 44 of the Employment Act, preventing the media from naming the dental clinic or the dentist who fired Mrs Araujo.

She said she did so “for the privacy” of both, but that the complainant was free to go public with her name.

Mrs Araujo, who is married to a Bermudian, said afterwards: “It has taken over a year and lots of hours and stress to keep my integrity intact.

“I will be for ever grateful to my former colleague witnesses who had the strength and courage to take this journey with me.”

She also thanked her lawyers, Juliana Snelling and Gambrill Robinson, of Canterbury Law.

Ms Snelling said: “This judgment in our client’s favour vindicates Mrs Araujo’s position all along that she was unfairly dismissed by her former dental practice.

“Her claim was that she was subjected to a series of unfair labour practices, ... as were her female colleagues, and she was then dismissed after refusing to sign a new precarious contract.”

Ms Snelling said her client’s “distinguished 28-year unblemished career” as a dental hygienist was restored by the judgment.

The lawyer added: “Employers must understand that summary dismissal can potentially ruin an employee’s career, with a huge stain on their résumé.

“Therefore, they must think and act fairly at all times before they impose the capital punishment of penalties: summary dismissal.

“Employers should also take careful note that employment tribunal hearings, like human rights hearings, are now public hearings with public judgments, our government recognising the inveterate rule that justice shall be administered in open court.

“This should make them think twice before acting with impunity.”

It was not possible to reach the dentist for comment yesterday.