Government seeks court review in ministry hiring dispute

The Law Courts Building in downtown George Town. - PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

The Cayman Islands government has requested that a court review a dispute surrounding a senior human resources hire made last year within the Ministry of Education.

Acting Deputy Governor Gloria McField-Nixon confirmed Thursday that a request for judicial review was filed in the matter, but that no decision had been made as to whether the case would proceed to a full court hearing.

Ms. McField-Nixon said the government would not release the initial filing seeking judicial review because the request to proceed to a full hearing had not been ruled upon.

The court records were not available for inspection at the George Town courts records office.

The dispute, which has been taking place behind the scenes since October 2017, involves a situation where a non-Caymanian was hired to fill the role of ministry human resources director over two Caymanians who also applied for the job and who both scored higher during a panel interview for the position.

The Caymanian applicant who scored the highest in the interview took her case to the Civil Service Appeals Commission on Oct. 23, 2017, stating that she should have been hired for the post over the non-Caymanian.

She argued that the ministry had “acted unfairly or in a biased manner” in making the hiring decision.

The non-Caymanian had been the acting human resources director in the ministry before taking on the job full time.

On Dec. 20, 2017, the appeals commission, chaired by former Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks, agreed that there was evidence that the ministry “acted unfairly toward the [Caymanian job applicant] during the selection phase of the recruitment process.”

The commission ordered that the Caymanian applicant be offered the post as of Feb. 15, 2018, and that she receive additional compensation for pay she would have received if she had been hired for the human resources job at the date it was first awarded, in late September.

If that Caymanian applicant did not accept the job, the commission ordered, it should be given to the second most successful Caymanian who applied. If neither Caymanian applicant accepted the job, it should be re-advertised, the commission said.

Stating that the commission’s ruling in the hiring dispute was “unprecedented” during his time in office, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson supported the ministry’s hiring decision and “signed off” on the non-Caymanian applicant’s employment.

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