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Jul 27, 1998

Court orders reinstatement of public officer

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In a decision that may have far reaching effects on the relationship between government and its employees, the Supreme Court has ordered authorities to reinstate a fired public officer and pay him over three years of back salary. In 1994 Jason Guerrero was terminated from his job as music coordinator with the Belize Arts Council, allegedly for insubordination. The charges arose out of his part-time volunteer hosting of a show on Love FM outside of his normal working hours. The case came before the Public Service Commission, which upheld the dismissal and an appeal to the Belize Advisory Council failed to reverse that ruling. But in the Supreme Court Justice Howard Nathan saw things otherwise. On Friday he ruled that the P.S.C. had not dealt fairly with Guerrero, having failed to apprise him of the specific complaints against him and not allowing him to adequately respond. Since being dismissed from his government post Guerrero has opened a music school and also performs professionally on the guitar. His back pay should be in the vicinity of seventy thousand dollars. As for his court ordered reinstatement, word reaching News Five is that Guerrero reported to work this morning at the Bliss Institute but was told by Director of Culture Beverly Smith, his former boss, that she knew nothing about any reinstatement. He was then asked to report to the Public Service Commission in Belmopan. Attempts to reach that body for comment have been unsuccessful.

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