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Nairobi woman who was dismissed for being pregnant wins compensation

By Kamau Muthoni | Published Mon, February 27th 2017 at 00:00, Updated February 27th 2017 at 12:34 GMT +3
Industrial Court Judge Justice Monica Mbaru at the Milimani Law Courts

A couple was forced to pay their house help nine times her salary for firing her after learning that she was pregnant.

Joyce Mwende Kang'aa moved to the Employment and Labour Relations court to challenge her dismissal. The court discovered that she was also underpaid and did not have an appointment letter.

The couple from Kileleshwa is said to have called Mwende the day she was supposed to start her maternity leave to inform her of their decision.

In the court papers, Mwende claims she was employed by Shalin Awan and Kuku's Awan from December 27, 2011 as a cleaner-cum-house help with a monthly salary of Sh7,000. The amount was later increased to Sh8,000.

But on March 5, 2014 she was terminated due to her pregnancy.

She further said that her employer refused to make up for the underpayment, pay her leave and maternity dues and compensate her for terminating her unlawfully.

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In her application, Mwende demanded Sh254,000 from the Awans, which included Sh134,000 as compensation.

Other payments were Sh33,000 service pay for the previous two years, underpayment balances from May 2012 to April 2013 amounting to Sh29,868, and from May 2013 to January 2014 amounting to Sh11,250.

"The claimant also states that she was not issued with any letter of appointment and was not paid the legal wage of Sh11,248 or paid commuter allowance or paid for the extra two hours she worked overtime each day. Despite lodging complaints on her case, the respondents ignored the claimant's concerns," reads the ruling by Justice Monica Mbaru.

When Mwende tried to follow up on her payments, she was informed that she cannot be paid for annual and maternity leaves. She was, however, paid Sh4,070 salary arrears for February 2014 via M-Pesa.

In their defence, the respondents stated that they never terminated the claimant unfairly. They claimed Mwende left their home in December 2013 and informed them she would return end of February 2014.

She gave no reason for being away. However, no evidence was called or offered by the respondent as they opted to be absent at the hearing.

Mbaru directed the respondents to pay Mwende Sh73,000 which included Sh29,000 compensation, notice of termination Sh9,780, underpayments amounting to Sh34,985, service pay Sh9,780 and the full cost of the case.