Five Vietnamese teachers win $57,200 lawsuit over job loss

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Five Vietnamese teachers win $57,200 lawsuit over job loss

This image shows three out of the five claimants after the hearing at the Krong Pak District People’s Court in Dak Lak Province on January 14, 2021. Photo: Trung Tan / Tuoi Tre

A Vietnam court has ordered a school and a district-level administration to jointly pay compensation to five teachers who lost their jobs after the school unilaterally terminated labor contracts with them.

After three days of hearing, the Krong Pak District People’s Court in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak on Friday concluded that Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School and the district People’s Committee were at fault in unilaterally terminating the labor contracts with the five plaintiffs in 2017.

Accordingly, the trial panel ordered the school and the district administration to jointly pay a total compensation of VND1.3 billion (over US$57,200) to the five teachers, namely Nguyen Anh Duong, Luong Van Chinh, Nguyen Tuan Anh, Trinh Thi Bich Hanh and H’Dim Nie K’Dam.

These teachers initiated a lawsuit against the school and the administration, claiming a higher compensation, VND1.5 billion ($66,000), after their contracts were terminated illegitimately more than four years ago.

According to the case file, since 2012, the district government issued a lot of decisions on teacher recruitment and asked local schools to sign labor contracts with a number of teachers, including the five teachers.

The above-mentioned school then signed indefinite labor contracts with the five teachers and they had since worked at the school without committing any violations.

However, on January 20, 2017, the school invited 22 teachers, including the five teachers, to renew labor contracts in the seasonal recruitment form, under which they were paid less than before.

The five teachers did not accept the new provisions and the school unilaterally terminated their contracts as from August 2017.

The representative of the school told the court that the district administration directed the school to sign contracts with these teachers but it did not allocate budget for salary payment, prompting the school to pay with its own funds.

As its fund had become exhausted since mid-2016, the school had to ask the 22 teachers, who were determined as redundant, to renew their contracts with lower wages, the representative explained.

At the trial, Ngo Thi Minh Trinh, deputy chairperson of the district’s administration admitted that hundreds of teacher recruitment decisions had been signed illegally by former leaders of the district, including those with the five plaintiffs.

She said that such leaders were disciplined for such wrong issuance of recruitment decisions that had led to the teacher redundancy at the said school.

The trial concluded that the above act by the district’s government and the unilateral contract termination by the school were against the Labor Code, so the court accepted the most part of the claims by the plaintiffs.

Given that the school is dealing with a redundancy of 45 teachers, the court rejected the claimants’ demand for being employed again, while ordering the above compensation.

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