Parasram Heerah v Trinidad Cement Ltd

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
JudgeDonna Prowell-Raphael,Lenore Harris
Judgment Date21 March 2023
Docket NumberE.O.T. No. 0005 of 2020
CourtEqual Opportunity Tribunal (Trinidad and Tobago)
Parasram Heerah
Trinidad Cement Limited

HH Donna Prowell-Raphael, CEOT.

Lay-Assessor: Lenore Harris.

E.O.T. No. 0005 of 2020



Mr. Ernest H. Koylass S.C. instructed by Ms. Debbie Roopchand for the Complainant.

Mr. Raphael Ajodhia and Mr. Derek Ali for the Respondent.


By Notice of Application filed on March 10, 2021, the respondent is seeking to have these proceedings (‘the Tribunal proceedings’) struck out on the ground of abuse of process or stayed pending the hearing and determination of High Court Action (‘the High Court Action’) CV 2020-00129 intituled between the complainant herein as claimant, and the respondent as defendant.


Prior to initiating these proceedings, the complainant initiated the High Court Action, in which he is seeking damages and or ancillary relief for his alleged wrongful dismissal. In these proceedings, the complainant alleges discrimination under section 9 1 of the Equal Opportunity Act (“EOA”) based on his status as a Trinidadian, and victimisation attendant on his said alleged wrongful dismissal under section 6 2 of the EOA. However, by the declaratory relief sought the complainant joins the both aspects of discrimination and premises it in his wrongful dismissal —

“A Declaration that the Respondent discriminated against the Complainant by way of his employment on the ground of his status and victimized the Claimant [sic] by its wrongful termination of his employment.”


This declaration together with the several heads of the consequential damages sought, as well as the facts as pleaded by the complainant appends the alleged discrimination and victimisation to his purported 3wrongful dismissal” (‘the said wrongful dismissal’).


Therefore, at the core of these proceedings as well as the High Court Action, is the dispute between the parties as to whether the complainant was wrongfully dismissed by the respondent. By his Complaint Form the complainant purports that the said wrongful dismissal was predicated upon, preceded by and or involved conduct of the respondent that constitutes discrimination and or victimisation against him under the Equal Opportunity Act Chap 22:03 (‘the EOA’) that culminated in the said wrongful dismissal. Consequently, the complainant is seeking damages amounting to in excess of Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00). The allegations and relief sought in these proceedings are being resolutely resisted by the respondent.


Both the High Court Action and the Tribunal proceedings are continuing concurrently, and this has given rise to the present application of the respondent. I have been advised by email from respective counsel that the trial of the High Court Action previously fixed for April 3 and 4, 2023 has now been vacated, and the proceedings placed for pre-trial review before a new judge on May 29, 2023. The pre-trial phase of the proceedings before this Tribunal have not yet been completed.


The Tribunal expresses its gratitude to counsel on both sides for their patience and understanding in the progress of the instant application before the Tribunal. I have carefully considered their helpful submissions and the legal authorities that they have provided. I am guided by the decision of the Court of Appeal in Rishi Persad Maharaj v Cascadia 4. I am mindful that to have two concurrent matters in courts of similar jurisdiction may be considered an abuse of process. As Mohmmed J. stated in Richard Thomas v. Anthony Marine Services Limited 5

“It is to be noted that the High Court and the Industrial Court, are governed by different statutes, namely the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, Chap 4:01 and the Industrial Relations Act, they are both Superior Courts of Record and share the similar jurisdiction in Trinidad and Tobago, the Industrial Court, however, being circumscribed in its ambit of jurisdiction by statute. Therefore, to have

two concurrent matters in both courts of the similar jurisdiction, is an abuse of process of the Court.”

Like the Industrial Court, the Equal Opportunity Tribunal 6 is a superior court of record and shares similar jurisdiction with the High Court. Its ambit of jurisdiction like the Industrial Court is also circumscribed by statute. Mohammed J.'s analysis therefore may apply equally to this Tribunal as it applies to the Industrial Court. However, I am satisfied that the claims and relief sought in the Tribunal proceedings, are premised differently to that sought in the High Court Action and are in part grounded in statutory jurisdiction that is exclusive to the Tribunal. I am therefore not persuaded by the contention that the proceedings must as a whole be considered as an abuse of process.


It is not disputed by Instructing Attorney at Law for the complainant, in her affidavit in opposition to this application that 7 “… there are common factual circumstances in both the High...

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