Justice Sengu Koroma of the High Court of Freetown under the Industrial and Social Security Division has ruled that the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) was wrong to dismiss one of its workers, Patrick Massaquoi, over failing to act within the terms and conditions of his employment.
The matter which was heard on Monday 1st February 2021 was between the employer, the Bank of Sierra Leone, and its former employee Patrick Massaquoi.
According to plaintiff Massaquoi’s testimony, he started working for the BSL on 1st April 2015 as a security guard.
He said on 17th April 2017, while detailed at the Bank’s second reception desk, bank staff Cecilia Ben Carew came in with two ‘Ghana must go’ bags suspected to have contained banknotes.
The plaintiff added that Madam Carew asked him to watch over the bags, as she wanted to collect certain things from her office. Massaquoi said he later asked Madam Carew about the contents of the bags, requesting she opened them as they were not secured.
He revealed that due to Madam Carew’s hesitation he had to open the bags, and discovered that they were filled with local currency notes. He said he then asked her to take them out of the Bank’s premises.
Massaquoi said he later explained the incident to his supervisor before taking a leave/vacation in April 2017. He said on 9th August 2017, while on duty, he was arrested by CID officers and detained for 13 days. The matter was charged to court and later discharged for want of evidence, adding that after the discharge he was arrested again, by the ACC which conducted an investigation but didn’t find him guilty.
Mr. Massaquoi said an internal investigation was also conducted by the Bank at the end of which he was given a letter of dismissal dated 10th May 2019.
He informed the court that due to their failure to pay his benefit, he filed the matter with the Ministry of Labour.
In his defence, BSL counsel J. Benjamin submitted that the plaintiff failed to act according to the terms, conditions, rules and regulations of his employment.
He furthered that plaintiff’s breach was revealed during an internal investigation conducted by the committee set up by the Bank, where he reportedly admitted to having failed to carry out his duties as per his obligations set out in the staff handbook and code of conduct governing his employment.
In his judgment, Justice Koroma said, “It is necessary to remind ourselves that an action for wrongful dismissal is an action for breach of contract. In this regards it is important and involves separate issues, mainly breach of contract and damages for the breach. As stated early the plaintiff has discharged both burdens.”
He however noted that “in the circumstance, this court holds that the plaintiff was wrongfully dismissed and is entitled to damages for the breach.”
The dismissed worker (plaintiff) was represented by lawyer E.T. Koroma.