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Man misses Sh7.2m demand amid claim of 'spending too much time with co-worker'

National

A finance manager has been denied Sh7.2 million he demanded for unfair dismissal. 

Fredrick Kanyora Njihia was awarded Sh798,780 after the Labour and Industrial Relations Court ruled that his former employer Rafiki Wa Maendeleo Trust was not legally mandated to pay him all lost income cost. 

Justice Stephen Radido cited a case from the Supreme Court of Uganda in his judgment, saying it would make little legal sense if the entire amount sought was awarded.

“Njihia pitched for Sh7,189,695 being the income he would have earned if he had served the full term of the contract. (But) The Supreme Court of Uganda in Bank of Uganda vs Tinkamanyire (2008) held that it is unattainable in law that when an employment contract is terminated prematurely or illegally an employee should be compensated for the remainder of the years or period they would have served,” he said.

“Considering these factors, the court is of the view that the equivalent of four months’ gross pay as compensation rather than reinstatement would be appropriate,” said Radido.

He said the termination of Njihia’s employment was statutorily procedural but substantively unfair.

“The letter terminating his contract did not give any reasons. It is not known whether the termination was on account of the Njihia’s conduct, capacity, compatibility, or the employer’s operational requirements,” said Radido.

Njihia was initially employed for two years by the charity organisation, and then a further two years of a five-year fixed-term contract.

He had expected to serve the full five-year term of the latter contract, but his employment was terminated after an anonymous person reported he was stealing the company’s time with a female colleague.

“Two years into the contract, we received an anonymous complaint dated November 1, 2021, alleging that the claimant (Njihia) and a female member of staff were spending too much time together in the finance office leaving little time to carry on our work,” testified Rafiki Wa Maendeleo Trust.

The organisation further alleged that Njihia had confronted another employee, asking him to keep off the female colleague, whom he even called his wife.

On November 7, 2022, the employer issued a show-cause notice alleging that he had summoned and confronted the shaken colleague for associating with the said female worker.

Pure gossip

Njihia responded on the same day, denying the allegations by terming them pure gossip and total falsehood meant to injure his reputation.

“I only had an informal engagement with the member of staff regarding the female staff member at lunchtime in October 2022,” he said.

On February 28, this year, his employer wrote to notify him of his sacking after not meeting the targets set for his accounting job.

The employer said, he had, besides the wanting conduct with the female colleague, not reconciled the organisation's bank accounts, petty cash, inter-company transfers, inventory stocks, staff advances, expenses and draft management accounts.

The employer, however, failed to correctly specify in the dismal letter whether it was sacking him for spending time with the female colleague or failing to meet targets.

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