Former bank manager gets Sh3.2m for job loss

Justice David Nderitu ordered the bank to send a notice to the Credit Reference Bureau to delist the former Bank of Africa manager’s name. [iStockphoto]

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has awarded a former Bank of Africa manager Sh3,286,380 for wrongful sacking.

Justice David Nderitu also ordered the bank to send a notice to the Credit Reference Bureau to delist Robert Gibendi’s name.

According to the judge, the bank unfairly terminated Gibendi’s employment on August 9, 2017. Gibendi lost his job for an alleged misconduct when he effected transfer of Sh350,000 from a client’s account (Ponchoz Agencies) in the bank's Nakuru branch to another (Dansal and Associates) without authority.

However, in his ruling, Justice Nderitu said the bank did not prove Gibendi signed or forged signatures for the transfer of the funds.

“Although there was evidence that the claimant (Gibendi) filled in the form for Ponchoz, no rules prevent him from doing so and that cannot cause him to lose his employment,” he ruled.

Nderitu insisted that if it was wrong for Gibendi to fill in the form, the bank should have dealt with the matter and sent him a warning instead of firing him.

“Employees are human and prone to errors and if employers were to discipline each perceived error, then all employees would fall short of glory and it would result in very high employee turnover, low morale and disruptions,” he said.

He ruled that no evidence proved that Gibendi abused any procedural rule, regulations or guideline in filling in the form for the said client.

He expressed shock at the claim that Ponchoz had not authorised Gibendi to transfer the funds for valuation fees, bearing in mind that later, Ponchoz settled the fees with Dansals and reduced it by Sh200,000.

He faulted the bank for acting unprofessionally when it denied Gibendi procedural fairness before his termination.

First, the court took note that he was suspended on June 21, 2017, a day before Ponchoz raised its complaint.

“The suspension was based on a non-existent complaint whose source the bank has refused to name,” ruled the judge.

Further, the judge noted that Gibendi was not accorded enough time to prepare for disciplinary hearing, having been notified on June 22, 2017, that he was expected to appear the next day.

The notice, the court ruled, was inadequate, noting all employees should be granted at least seven days to prepare for a disciplinary hearing.

“There was no cause for emergency or hurry in having the urgent disciplinary hearing. In fact, the complainant was on suspension,” he ruled.

The judge also took note that CCTV footage of the day the offence allegedly occurred was deleted and no explanation given.

The judgment recorded that the client who allegedly complained before Gibendi’s suspension was not named in the bank’s submissions before the court.

The judge said the compensation was necessary because when Gibendi was dismissed from work, his reputation was tarnished, making it difficult to be employed by any other bank.