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Judge found no proof of employment relationship between the cleaner and the firm

A cleaner kicked out by her employer over a claim of emitting bad smell, has lost a labour dispute despite him snubbing the case.

Zarika Adoyo’s work was to ensure everything in her employer’s office was spotless and sparkling. She was, however, thrown out by Tai Shunjun in 2013, who claimed he could not stand her body odour.

She subsequently sued Shunjun alongside his firm Xiehe Group (K) Ltd arguing that despite working diligently and faithfully, he unfairly showed her the door on August 15, 2013.

According to Xiehe Group’s website, the firm has its roots in China and is associated with the Xiehe Group of companies, which started in 1988 in Shenyang, China.

The firm deals with life science research and development, manufacturing, marketing of bio-pharmaceuticals, health products among others.

Adoyo had asked Labour court judge Maureen Onyango to force Shunjun to pay her at least Sh203,000 as compensation for unfair termination, underpayment and house allowance, as well as condemn him to pay the costs of the case.

But the judge dismissed her prayers, noting she did not prove she had a valid contract with the Chinese national.

Although Shunjun never bothered to reply or dispute Adoyo’s allegation during the hearing, Justice Onyango said an oral contract did not amount to an employment relationship.

Shunjun had initially hired a lawyer to represent him in court and had claimed that Adoyo was a casual labourer and would only be engaged on need basis.

The unnamed lawyer then abandoned him by asking the judge to allow him to withdraw his services. This was on November 14, 2018.

Thereafter, Shunjun never attended the court sessions, despite being served with the hearing dates.

“It has been stated time and again by this court that where the respondent (Shunjun) does not participate in the hearing and has not admitted the employment relationship, the claimant must prove the same as a preliminary point, as without proof, the whole claim is anchored on quicksand,” ruled Onyango.

She added: “Having found no proof of the existence of an employment relationship, the entire claim cannot hold and must fall apart. I accordingly dismiss the same with no orders for costs.”

According to Adoyo’s lawyer Nyabena Nyakundi, she was employed around November 2012. He claimed she served both as a messenger and cleaner. Her monthly pay was Sh5,000.

On July 5, 2013, Adoyo requested her former employer to increase her salary, but he ‘turned abusive’. She testified that he informed her that he would find someone else to replace her.

A month later, the court heard, Shunjun went to the office and said something was smelling. He claimed the source of the unpleasant smell was Adoyo.

“The respondent dragged the claimant out of the office and informed her that she does not fit in the respondent’s office and that she can go. Prior to this, the claimant was not given any notice or given the liberty to show cause why her services should not be terminated contrary to the provisions of Section 41 of the Employment Act, 2007. There existed no valid reason for her termination and that the manner in which her services were terminated was unfair and unlawful,” claimed Nyakundi.

Just as she was employed, Adoyo was verbally fired.

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Zarika Adoyo Tai Shunjun Xiehe Group (K) Ltd
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