The National Industrial Court on Wednesday awarded a driver, Sunday Onyemara, N500,000 in general damages for the wrongful termination of his employment.
Delivering judgment, Justice Zaynab Bashir, also declared that the termination of the claimant’s employment dated Oct. 31,2019, from Wheels Services Ltd., was wrongful.
The court in addition held that the firm did not state the truth with regards to the allegation of Onyemara’s abdication of duty.
The court further said that the firm also failed to accord the claimant the right to fair hearing before terminating his employment.
From facts, the claimant had submitted that he was employed by the firm as a driver and sometime in September 2019 he was arrested with one of his colleagues over alleged misconduct and the matter was subsequently investigated by the police.
He added that the police report exonerated him from the misconduct allegation but the firm terminated his appointment while the police investigation was ongoing.
He therefore urged the court to grant the reliefs he sought.
In defence, Wheels Services Ltd., averred that the claimant’s employment was terminated in compliance with the terms and conditions governing the his employment.
The defendant in addition averred that the claimant was directed to liaise with the accounting department to reconcile his account for full payment of all his entitlements.
The firm in addition submitted that it was not its duty to investigate crimes but that because the activity of claimant contravened the provisions of the terms of employment, they could validly terminate his employment.
The defendant closed its case by urging the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
The court after evaluating the submissions of both parties held that the moment a reason was given for employment termination, it must be justified by the employer and nothing was placed before the court to show the intermediate action taken by the defendant to hear from the claimant whether what was gathered about him was true or false.
“In the instant case, the haste with which the defendant dismissed the claimant from employment without verification of the information reaching them from the claimant’s work station is made more apparent by the fact that the defendant posited that the claimant abdicated his duty for over a month,” the judge ruled
The court however declined the claimant’s other reliefs for lacking merit.