News / 20.05.19

"Not fired, not working, and can't get back our labour books": saleswomen of the "Domovoy" furniture store chain apply to REP

For almost a year, Valentina Kushel and Svetlana Terlyukevich cannot force their employer to fulfil the court judgement: to restore their earlier working conditions. The women are ready to terminate the relationship with the employer, but he wouldn't give their labour books.

The two women, who worked as salespersons-consultants for "Domovoy" furniture store chain at the Minsk "Zamok" (Castle) Shopping Centre, have turned to the REP Trade Union for legal assistance.

Back in early 2018, Valentina and Svetlana came to their workplaces and found that their employer was taking all the furniture and trading equipment out of store. On the spot, he asked the women to write application for the dismissal on their own free will.

"You come to work and see that your store in evacuated"

"We were not warned that the store will be closed. Of course, this situation was a shock for us; and in that state of shock, we signed the applications. A month later, we got our labour books and saw an entry "fired for absenteeism without valid reason." And when we received our final payroll bills, we saw the figure by BYN 600 below our usual monthly salary, "Svetlana Terlyukevich told the

It turned out that the employer, after revising goods at the warehouse, found that some vase was missing, and deducted the cost, at which he had intended to sell it, BYN 1192, from the saleswomen.

"Then, we decided to seek justice at court: after all, there was no absenteeism; and we had nothing to do with the missing vase," Svetlana has noted.

Their lawsuit demanded to reinstate them at work, pay due for the forced absenteeism and compensate their suffered moral harm. The court satisfied all the lawsuit points; however, the employer continued struggling for the vase, trying to punish his former employees.

Naturally, the first-instance court returned to us the money withheld without our consent. However, the employer decided to go further – as a result, the Minsk City Court ruled that I was involved in the disappearance of the vase. Allegedly, when loading the goods, I failed to seal up the boxes, and due to my fault the vase disappeared. The court ruled to collect BYN 32, although I was not responsible for this property and did not actually participate in the inventory," said Svetlana.

"He wanted to collect BYN 1192 for a vase worth BYN 32"

"It turns out that both women were fired for the alleged absenteeism, because director Yuri Radyuk did not like the disappearance of the vase, when the store moved out, and he decided to take revenge on them in this way. It is worth noting the difference of the real cost of the vase and the price at which the director wanted to sell it – BYN 32 vs. BYN 1192, respectively. All the buyers at the 'Domovoy' store chain have something to think about here," says Yuri Belyakov, a legal inspector of the REP Trade Union.

"If an employee disagrees with the changed essential working conditions, he/she has the right to quit within 7 days and receive the due dismissal pay"

After the court decided to restore Valentina Kushel and Svetlana Terlyukevich at the same place of work, the women brought their labour books to the employer, but he voluntarily changed their working conditions, by sending them to work in a shop located in the dwelling settlement of Privolny, not in Minsk, as had been prescribed by the court.

"The women were careless enough to give, without first consulting a lawyer, their labour books to an unfair employer. They can't quit now. The court has ruled to reinstate them at work under the same essential working conditions – with the same salary, workplace and work schedule. It turns out that they have been reinstated, but their essential working conditions were changed for the worse, and they were not even notified about it. According to the Labour Code, a respective order should have been issued, but the employer failed to do it. Besides, if an employee does not agree with the changed essential conditions, then he/she has the right to quit within 7 days with receiving a two-week average salary. The director, Yuri Radyuk, would not do this, and, therefore, keeps his workers in limbo," Yuri Belyakov has stated.

The former employer refuses to execute the court judgement. The women appealed to the Prosecutor's Office, the Department of State Labour Inspectorate and the State Control Committee with a demand to restore their essential working conditions (workplaces in Minsk); however, all the above instances just sent formal replies (buck slips).

"Now, we've drafted a lawsuit demanding from the employer to pay for the women's forced absenteeism and finally fully execute the court judgement, or dismiss them by agreement of the parties," the legal inspector has concluded.

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