The Court of Appeal has affirmed a Sh1 million award given to a woman who was sacked five years ago after filing a sexual harassment complaint.
Judges Roselyn Nambuye, Wanjiru Karanja and Sankale ole Kantai ruled that Ms Cathie Akinyi Nana, a clerk, deserved the compensation from her former employer, Chandarana Supermarket.
While the retailer had asked the court to set aside that award granted earlier by the Employment and Labour Relations Court, the appellate judges dismissed that request.
“We have also reconsidered the circumstances leading to the claim of sexual harassment and the award; we are not persuaded that the amount awarded was excessive. Ultimately, we find no merit in this appeal and dismiss it accordingly,” the judges ruled.
Ms Nana told the court that her woes with her former employer started when she fell ill on March 16, 2015.
She was granted three days’ leave but, on reporting back and after giving medical documentary evidence, she was handed a notice to show cause for her absence. She was then dismissed on July 21, 2015.
Ms Nana said her dismissal had nothing to do with absence from work but had everything to do with a complaint she had made against one Pius Patel for sexually harassing her.
She claimed that the human resources manager faulted her for raising the complaint with the head office instead of her department manager and supervisor. Ms Nana said her direct supervisor had criticised her for raising the complaint.
She said the notice was an attempt to cover-up and protect the management as it had no legitimate cause for firing her yet there was a need to justify why she had to be dismissed.
Ms Nana moved to court in August 2015 and sued her employer over unlawful termination of services and sought damages.
She also wanted the retailer compelled to issue a policy statement on sexual harassment or incorporate the same in the contracts of service for its staff.
But the retailer argued that its code of conduct comprehensively set out what constituted sexual harassment and the venue for seeking redress.
The retailer also argued that Ms Nana did not file any sexual harassment complaints as alleged and that she was absent without permission, hence raised the claim to shield herself from disciplinary action.
The judges also fined the director of Chandarana Sh30,000 for failing to incorporate a sexual harassment policy statement within 60 days as ordered.