EDITORIAL – Labour Tribunal brushes off British dentist

“The [Labour] Tribunal finds it hard to think of a dismissal more procedurally unfair.”
“[T]he Tribunal is not minded to award the Complainant any such compensation in this case.”
— Labour Tribunal judgement, Dr. Lindsay Harvey v Pure Healthcare Ltd., Aug. 23

“The case of the British dentist” begs for further examination, extensive drilling — and no false veneers.

Dr. Lindsay Harvey and her husband Jon Harvey. The couple say they will be moving back to the U.K. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay
Dr. Lindsay Harvey and her husband Jon Harvey. The couple say they will be moving back to the U.K. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Early last year, Dr. Lindsay Harvey and husband Jon arrived in the Cayman Islands, filled with the highest of hopes of having found their personal paradise. Instead, her employer — Pure Healthcare, owned by Gregg Anderson — refused to pay her for three months, then fired her after she complained about it to her friends, her attorney and regulatory bodies in Cayman.

We, like the Tribunal, were especially taken aback by the finding that Dr. Harvey was being dismissed, in part, because she “told” — rather than keeping quiet as less courageous victims might have done.

In its decision, the Tribunal (a three-person panel of appointed citizens) sided with Dr. Harvey, found that she had been dismissed unfairly, determined it had the power to award her compensation … and, in the end, were restrained by the terms of the Labour Law to award her absolutely nothing. The Tribunal referenced the possibility of Dr. Harvey pursuing claims through Summary Court, a process which can be, as is well-known, lengthy and cost-prohibitive.

It is unfortunate that those paid on a commission basis appear to have no effective redress when unfairly dismissed — the result being that Dr. Harvey and her husband are leaving Cayman disenchanted, certainly poorer but perhaps wiser. Some of these shortcomings in the current Labour Law may well be effectively addressed by the proposed new bill, but the government has yet to bring this legislation to passage.

Setting aside the mistreatment suffered by Dr. Harvey and, by proxy her husband, in a broader sense the most serious damage this case has caused is to Cayman’s reputation.

We are a country whose economy depends on foreign workers. (According to the most recent government data, 44 percent of Cayman employees are “non-Caymanian,” and a further 10 percent are permanent residents.) We simply cannot afford for Cayman to be seen as a place where local businesses take advantage of foreign workers.

In a comment posted online in response to last Wednesday’s story, a reader stated that her advice to expatriates is to proceed with extreme caution before leaving their homes to move to Cayman.

While, practically speaking, that may be sound advice, such a warning is completely antithetical to the needs of our economy, the demands of decency and justice, and how we see ourselves as a country.

Certainly, all people should engage in the requisite due diligence before embarking upon changes in careers, lifestyle or geography, but when it comes to Cayman — and coming to Cayman — we should strive to be (and be perceived as being) the friendliest and most welcoming jurisdiction on the globe, with blue skies, blue waters and a level playing field for all.

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