Female port worker says conflicting discrimination judgements breach human rights

Victoria Cassar had sued the Port Workers Board in 1993, after she was not allowed to fill her father's port worker job when he retired in 1992 because she is a woman

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Matthew Agius
11 August 2017, 4:00pm
A woman whom the Constitutional Court found to have suffered gender discrimination by not being allowed to inherit her father's port worker job, only to then lose her civil case for damages has filed another court case arguing that the decision to overturn her €800,000 award breached her human rights.

Victoria Cassar had sued the Port Workers Board in 1993, after she was not allowed to fill her father's port worker job when he retired in 1992 because she is a woman, only to learn that her uncle had been accepted to fill her father's position in her stead.

Claiming to have suffered a substantial loss of earnings, the woman demanded damages.

In 2000, the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction had ordered the Port Workers Board to allow her to register herself as being eligible to be a port worker as from 1992. The Constitutional Court had confirmed the judgment, a year later. A civil case for the liquidation of damages was then filed and in 2012, awarded her €799,168 in damages.

The Chairman of the Port Workers Board had filed an appeal against the damages awarded and the Court of Appeal had overturned the award, concluding hat the appellant Port Workers Board was not responsible for the damages suffered by the woman.

In an appeal application filed by lawyer Tonio Azzopardi, Cassar is arguing that the appeal judgment was incompatible with that of the Constitutional Court and violates her constitutional right to freedom from discrimination and constituted degrading treatment. The Court of Appeal was obliged to decide the issue according to the decision of the Constitutional Court, he argued.

The appeals court had effectively erased a res judicata, (an unalterable court decision) which in itself is a violation of the right to a fair hearing, argued the lawyer.

Azzopardi argued that the State was liable in tort for the Port Workers Board actions as well as because it had permitted what he described as “this anachronistic discrimination on the basis of gender, ” and for the loss of earnings suffered by the woman.

The court application called on the court to declare that Cassar had suffered a breach of her fundamental human rights, to order that she be given her father's licence with effect from 1992, revoke the May 2017 judgment of the Court of Appeal and order the payment of liquidated damage together with consequential damages and moral damages.

The demand was filed together with a judicial protest filed by Cassar's son Carlo, who argued that he had a legitimate expectation to inherit the port worker licence from his mother and was holding the Minister for Transport, Transport Malta and the Port Workers Board responsible in damages.

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Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...