Nearly four years after she was sacked, an Associated Press (AP) journalist has won a legal battle against the American news agency with a Delhi labour court ruling that she was entitled to Rs 45.10 lakh towards gratuity under the Working Journalists Act.
Laurinda Keys Long, 52, who served the agency for 28 years, was terminated in 2004 by AP after she was transferred from Singapore to India, allegedly without assigning any reason or giving her any benefit for her past service.
Contesting her claim, the news agency told the court that Laurinda was exclusively covered under US laws, she was on a limited transfer to India and was not entitled to any provident fund or "other deductions".
AP contended that no deposit on her behalf was being made in this regard and no deduction was made from her salary.
Assistant Labour Commissioner A Y Prem Nath, the designated authority under the Working Journalists Act 1955, in a recent order, allowed her claim petition and awarded her an interest of 12 per cent per annum from the date of filing the application in December 2005 (over Rs 10 lakh).
The court noted that when it sought details of cause for Laurinda's dismissal, Jim Donna, vice-president (HR) of AP, said "we have no policy statement, tenure and causes of dismissal."
The Court held that AP is a newspaper establishment and Laurinda was a working journalist covered under the Working Journalists Act which does not specifically bar its application to a foreign national.