LIAT Loses Appeal and Must Pay Dismissed Employee More Than US$1.5 Million

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, United States Virgin Islands, Wednesday May 22,
2019
– Regional airline LIAT has failed in its efforts to avoid paying
more than US$1 million to a former employee in the United States Virgin Islands
(USVI) who was forced out of the company, after almost five decades of
employment, because of his age.

The
Antigua-based company had appealed a decision by a jury in February to award
William Cherubin US$1,551,320 in damages. But Justice Douglas Brady of the USVI
Superior Court has dismissed the appeal and ordered the airline to pay the
money.

Cherubin took
the cash-strapped airline to court claiming he had been fired because of his
age – contrary to LIAT’s claim that it was because of poor performance –, which
was in contravention of the Virgin Islands Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination
of employees on the basis of age.  

He was 71
years old when he was dismissed on June 4, 2015, without notice, with the
company accusing him of violating company policy on three occasions. During his
47 years at the company, Cherubin had risen from a job as a ticket agent to
manager of ground operations.

Justice Brady
said in his ruling that “the totality of the trial evidence was sufficient to
permit a jury to inference that LIAT’s proffered reasons [for Cherubin’s
dismissal] were false”.

“Evidence of
Cherubin’s emotional pain and suffering following his termination was
sufficient that the Court cannot find that the jury’s verdict was seriously
erroneous as against the clear weight of the evidence,” he said.

“Accordingly,
the Court will not interfere with the jury’s award and LIAT’s motion for a new
trial will be denied.”

During the
trial, it had been disclosed that four years before Cherubin was fired, LIAT offered
employees over the age of 62, including Cherubin, a retirement package in
exchange for their voluntary resignations.

Cherubin’s supervisors had urged him to take the offer, telling him he was over the typical retirement age. But he decided to continue working.

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