22:51, Saturday, 26.05.2018
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Disagreement At Court

The Kutaisi Court of Appeals recently handed down an unprecedented verdict on labor relations in Georgia. The Court Collegiums, with Irma Peranidze acting as chairperson, upheld the appeal of Irma Margvelashvili’s, a former employee of the Kutaisi office for the JSI Research and Training Institute Program for Women Health in Georgia. The court ruled that the board of JSI illegally breached Margvelashvili’s contract on September 16, 2006, and was ordered to pay her salary for the time initially laid out in the contract.
Before the Court of Appeals announced their verdict, Margvelashvili spoke to the Human Rights Center’s Kutaisi office about the rough year she had gone through since she was fired without any reason from JSI.

 “I have ten-years of experience working with international organizations. I have never felt as insulted as I did then. I was particularly insulted when Nancy Harris, the head of the organization, fired me from the office without any explanation or evidence of problems with my work. I was fired only one month after signing a two-year labor contract. Harris and her Georgian deputy, Mamuka Khantadze, told me that they needed a computer specialist instead of me. They offered to let me work as a computer specialist and I told them I would think about it. The next day, I called Harris and told her that I would accept their offer.  She then said no and refused to continue my contract. I urged her to take my situation into consideration, as my contract with them encouraged me to plan my future life and that I would now face great problems. My appeals had no effect on her at all. Meanwhile, they drew up documents, which I was forced to sign, and issued me my salary for two months and a one-month holiday.”

The reason given for firing Margvelashvili was the abolishment of the administrative officer in the Kutaisi JSI office. The position was resorted soon after she left the organization, however, and JSI announced a vacancy for an administrative officer in their Tbilisi office. Margvelashvili had never been offered the option of moving to the Tbilisi office to work. The Kutaisi office has also recently announced a vacancy for a position only slightly different from that of the administrative officer.

 “It would have been very simple for Margvelashvili to work in a new position,” Niko Kankava, lawyer for the Human Rights Center, said. “Besides that, the organization’s own policies states that if it is necessary to employ a new specialist, the principal staff of the organization should first meet and discuss whether any of them can take over the responsibilities or if any of them can provide the needed services after special training. The regulations drawn up by the organization state that any training expenses should be reimbursed, although these regulations were not complied with. Margvelashvili offered to take the three-month training course at her own expense. JSI still insisted on canceling her contract, breaching her rights once again.”

 Attorney Archil Lezhava, counsel for JSI, explained in a conversation with the Human Rights Center the circumstances surrounding JSI’s new administrative officer vacancies being announced so soon after Margvelashvili was fired, the responsibilities at JSI now being shared among other employees and whether the organization had breached her rights.

 “A position can be abolished if the organization has a pressing necessity and the board concludes that a similar position is not needed in their future activities,” Lezhava said. “Consequently, if any of the functions are needed in the future, another employee can be put in charge of those responsibilities. In this particular case, I was not connected with the case and it is beyond my competences. I do not have any information about the amount of the salaries as I have no deal with the issue. The most important thing is that a legal decision was made to abolish the position of administrative officer. In doing so, the JSI did not violate the rights of Irma Margvelashvili. She was warned about future staff reductions in accordance with the law on the matter as well as in the labor contract signed by all parties. She also received financial compensation. All procedures, envisaged by the law and the contract between the parties was followed and JSI Georgia has complied with all demands.”

 Irma Margvelashvili, her attorney and the Kutaisi Court of Appeals disagree.

 “The fact that this case has become so well known and involved an international organization will hinder me from getting employment at similar organizations and thus I has ended my future career,” Margvelashvili said. “However, I had to act. I wanted to show to my former colleagues that I was right and that fighting for personal rights is more important than high-paid positions. The main reason Harris treated me like that was to intimidate other Georgian personnel and to show to us that she would deal with all of us in similar way if we opposed her or dared to express or stand by his or her opinion when it differed from hers.” Margvelashvili is pleased with the court decision and considers that she has taken the first step in defending her personal dignity.

The case will continue on at the Georgian Supreme Court as JSI-Georgia has appealed to the Supreme Court against the verdict passed at the Court of Appeals.

 Lela Khidasheli, Kutaisi

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Name: Irma Margvelashvili
2014-04-02 22:03
I demand, to cancel the interview, because, I consider that it is extinguishing my rights.
Name: ირმა მარგველაშვილი
2014-04-02 21:56
მოვითხოვ, ამ სტატიის გაუქმებას, ვინაიდან ვთვლი, რომ მისი არსებობა, ლახავს ჩემს უფლებებს.
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