Another judicial review application has been filed in an ongoing dispute between the Ministry of Education and the Civil Service Appeals Commission, involving a situation where a non-Caymanian was hired to be the ministry’s human resources director over a Caymanian who says she was similarly qualified.
The dispute stems from September 2017, when a non-Caymanian was hired to be the ministry’s HR director. The Caymanian who was passed over took her case to the Civil Service Appeals Commission, arguing that the ministry had “acted unfairly or in a biased manner” in making the hiring decision.
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. The appeals commission also ordered that the non-Caymanian be removed from his position, effective Feb. 14, 2018.
However, the Ministry of Education did not comply with the appeals commission’s orders, and filed a legal challenge to the commission’s order in May, seeking to have the Grand Court nullify the orders – a filing in which the ministry called the commission’s orders “outrageous” and “in defiance of logic.”
In May, the Grand Court accepted the ministry’s application to have a judicial review, but a hearing date has not yet been set for the dispute.
Last month, the Caymanian who was passed over filed her own judicial review application, seeking to have the Grand Court enforce the appeals commission’s orders.
In her application, the Caymanian applicant calls former Education Ministry Chief Officer Christen Suckoo’s decision not to hire her “unlawful.” She also called the hiring process “unfair.”
One of the ministry’s reasons for hiring the non-Caymanian was because that applicant had prior experience as an HR manager of a large team of employees. However, the non-Caymanian’s only relevant experience was his seven months as the ministry’s acting HR director, according to the Caymanian applicant’s challenge.
The Caymanian also stated that she scored 4.5 points higher than the non-Caymanian during a panel interview. The Caymanian scored the highest of all applicants, while the non-Caymanian scored fourth highest of five shortlisted candidates, according to the judicial review application.
“The Plaintiff scored the highest and the only suggested excuse for not appointing her is the basis that the successful, non-Caymanian candidate had experience with a large team, which was gained by the same acting in the open position for seven months, during the time of the recruitment process,” the Caymanian’s judicial review application states. “The experience gained in such circumstances should not be a relevant factor for consideration, it was unfair advantage gained by an unfair process.”
If the Grand Court accepts the Caymanian’s application for a judicial review, this case will be heard concurrently with the challenge filed by the Ministry of Education.
Among the ministry’s arguments to overturn the commission’s orders are that the hearing was conducted unfairly because the ministry never had the chance to respond to the Caymanian applicant’s appeal.
The ministry also argues that removing the current, non-Caymanian from his post as HR director would be an unlawful termination.
“[The commission’s] order that the contract of employment with the [non-Caymanian] be rescinded … was so outrageous in its defiance of logic and of accepted legal standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it,” the Ministry of Education argued in its judicial review application.