5-year battle: Pharmacist sacked for misusing office phone gets Sh14, 000

Judge rules pharmacist was fairly sacked for misusing employers' office phone. [Courtesy]
A pharmacist fired for misusing his employer’s phone has been awarded Sh14,000 after a five-year court battle.

In essence, George Otieno, a former employee of Medimart Health Ltd, earned Sh7 per day for the years the case has been going on.

In addition, Mr Otieno will have to pay his lawyer as Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Linnet Ndolo ordered that he shoulders the cost of his legal representation.

Otieno told court he was employed in 2013 and that his first salary amounted to Sh28,000. The money was allegedly meant to be increased to Sh30,000 in his third month at the job.

He said his former employer accused him of misusing the office phone by making personal calls. He admitted to using the phone to make two urgent calls to his father and sibling.

Otieno claimed his employer made it hard for him defend himself, saying he was ambushed with a dismissal letter and not given an opportunity to explain what had happened.

Court records show Otieno wanted Sh400,000, which he tabulated as compensation for one month’s notice, unpaid leave allowance and 12 months' salary compensation.

Medimart argued that Otieno was kicked out before he completed his probation period so he could not claim he was sacked unfairly.

According to the firm, the telephone bills had shot up due to unauthorised calls by employees.

Medimart said a verbal warning on misuse of the office phone was issued to employees before a written memo was sent out.

“Due to unsustainable bills after unauthorised calls, Medimart issued a warning to its employees. The other employees complied but the claimant did not,” the judge heard.

The firm tabled a list of unauthorised calls Otieno had made. It showed he carried the phone home twice - on October 22, 2013, and November 8, 2013.

“The claimant was given time to explain himself. Further, the claimant had been issued with prior verbal and written warnings,” argued Medimart.

The judge ruled that Otieno was entitled to only seven days' leave as he was still serving his probation. For this, the court awarded him Sh7,000.

He was awarded another Sh7,000 as leave allowance for the seven days he had served.

“The court finds the claimant’s claim for unlawful termination of employment has no basis in law and is dismissed. The claimant, having been on probation at the time of termination, was only entitled to seven days’ notice. Similarly, he was only entitled to prorata leave for the four months of service,” she ruled.

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George OtienoMedimart Health LtdDismissal