Wilfred G Edwards v Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (Petrotrin)

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
JudgeMr. Rajmanlal Joseph,Ms. Leela Ramdeen,Mr. Harridath Maharaj
Judgment Date30 June 2016
Docket NumberE.O.T. No. 0002 of 2013
CourtEqual Opportunity Tribunal (Trinidad and Tobago)
Wilfred G Edwards
Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Petrotrin)

His Honour Mr. Rajmanlal Joseph — Judge/Chairman

Her Honour Ms. Leela Ramdeen — Lay Assessor

His Honour Mr. Harridath Maharaj — Lay Assessor

E.O.T. No. 0002 of 2013


(Referred pursuant to S. 39(2) of the Equal Opportunity Act 2000 as amended by Act No. 5 of 2001)


Mr Jawara Mobota appeared on behalf of the Complainant

Mr. Russell Martineau, S.C appeared on behalf of the Respondent


Briefly, the complaint in this case is concerned with the allegations by the complainant, a former employee of the Respondent, during the period December 1993—April, 1999. After a work related accident on April 12, 1999 suffered certain injuries which required hospitalization. After his “recovery” he presented himself on May 15, 2000 to resume work, but was told that he was no longer eligible to be placed on the company's roster of temporary workers, which was tantamount to a dismissal. The Complainant alleged that the Respondent discriminated against him on the basis of his disability, and also that the company refused and/or deliberately omitted to offer him employment or re-employment contrary to Section 8 of the Equal opportunity Act, Chap. 22:03 (the Act); and also by victimization contrary to Section 6(1) of the Act.


The Respondent in its defence filed on May 29, 2014 at paragraph 3 thereof stated:

“… that the Equal Opportunity Commission was plainly wrong in accepting and considering the complainant's complaint which was filed with it more than six (6) months from the date of the alleged act of the discrimination.”


It is based on this contention that counsel for the Respondent took the preliminary point at a Pre Trial Review on May 14, 2015 that the matter ought to be struck out on the basis that the complainant was out of time. As a consequence, directions were given for the parties to file and serve their written submissions and October 7, 2015 was the date set for hearing counsel on the said preliminary point.


In essence the Respondent submitted to the Tribunal that the Complainant's complaint should be dismissed on the basis that the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) was wrong to accept and consider his complaint which was filed with it more than six (6) months from the date of the alleged act of discrimination. Secondly, there was a ten (10) year delay in the Complainant bringing his complaint which has caused prejudice to the Respondent and is an abuse of process. Finally, that the alleged discrimination not to rehire the Complainant occurred on May 15, 2000 and that the relevant Parts of the Act came into force on January 31, 2001 and that the complaint was therefore misconceived.


Briefly, counsel for the Complainant responded as follows:

  • (a) While the relevant sections 4, 5, 7 and 10 came into operation on January 31, 2001, there is nothing in the Act which prohibits a retrospective interpretation.

  • (b) That the delay point raised by the Respondent was untenable as they had acquiesced in the proceedings before the EOC and was therefore estopped from relying on any point with reference to any such delay. And furthermore, that the Equal Opportunity Act (the Act) is really a recognition of the constitutional vested rights and for ensuring that these vested rights are recognized and enforced.


The Equal opportunity Act, Chap. 22:03 and in particular Section 30 (1) to (3) states as follows:

  • “(1) A person who alleges that some other person has discriminated against him or has contravened Section 6 or 7 in relation to him may lodge a written complaint with the Commission setting out the details of the alleged act of discrimination.

  • (2) A complaint under subsection (1) shall be lodged with the Commission within six (6) months from the date of the alleged act of discrimination.

  • (3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), the Commission, in exceptional circumstances, may accept a complaint which is lodged more than six (6) months after the date of the alleged act of discrimination.”

It is clear from the foregoing that the Commission is tasked with the responsibility to ensure that complaints lodged with it must be done within six (6)...

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