In The Bahamas, every employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed from employment. Bahamian law contains specific descriptions of possible reasons for dismissal that are unfair. Employees who feel that they have been dismissed unfairly should contact an attorney to discuss their rights.
The law presumes that a dismissal was unfair if the principal reason for the dismissal was that the employee was or planned to become a trade union member, participated or planned to participate in union activities, was not a union member, or refused or proposed to refuse to become or remain a union member. Employment Act, Section 36.
Further, Bahamian law lists specific requirements for dismissal because of redundancy. If the principal reason for dismissal was redundancy but the employee can show that other employees with similar duties would have been in the same circumstances as him but were not dismissed, the dismissal may be unfair. The employee must also show either 1) the union participation or non-participation as described above applies to the dismissed employee or 2) there was a standard redundancy agreement or procedure, and his dismissal did not follow it. Employment Act, Section 37.
Unfair dismissal protections cover pregnancy. An employee has been unfairly dismissed if the reason or principal reason for her dismissal is that she is pregnant, or the reason was otherwise connected with her pregnancy (e.g., for taking maternity leave). Employment Act, Sections 38, 21.
Employees who believe they have been unfairly dismissed may file a complaint with the Industrial Tribunal, a decision-making body established under the Industrial Relations Act. If the employee prevails, the Tribunal may order reinstatement or re-engagement if the employee desires it, and otherwise will make an award of compensation for unfair dismissal to the employee, paid by the employer.
Reinstatement means the employer must treat the employee as if he had not been dismissed, and re-engagement means the employee must be engaged by the employer, or by a successor or associate of the employer, in employment comparable to that from which he was dismissed or other suitable employment. If the employee is reinstated or re-engaged but the employer does not comply with the Tribunal's order in full, the Tribunal will award the employee compensation.
To find out more about employment law, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.