Former Kenya Airways finance director Alex Mbugua yesterday got a major reprieve from the court after it ordered he be reinstated to his position following termination in January 2016.
Mr Mbugua has been fighting his sacking for the past 22 months, claiming that he was let go as part of a vindictive scheme by current and former top managers to conceal plunder at the airline.
Employment and Labour Relations Judge Monica Mbaru on Tuesday ruled that Mr Mbugua, who held the position for eight years, was not given a fair hearing in the disciplinary proceedings that were commenced against him before termination.
“The…termination of employment was unfair. The claimant (Mr Mbugua) is hereby reinstated back to his position as group finance director without loss of benefits and any lawful entitlement to be paid within 30 days,” ruled Justice Mbaru.
“The claimant shall report back to work on November 8 at 8.30am to the chief (executive) officer for allocation of duties.”
The judge ruled that Mr Mbugua had been placed at a disadvantage by his employer when he was requested to defend his performance yet he had also been told that he was going to be sacked.
The court, which has the status of the High Court, also found that, though the arguments raised by the national carrier to justify Mr Mbugua’s sacking were reasonable, they were insufficient to warrant the termination.
The airline sacked Mr Mbugua on poor performance grounds, but his lawyer John Njomo argued before court that his 52-year-old client was competent and qualified for the job.
Kenya Airways, which is currently trying to reach a closure with creditors on its restructuring plan, said it had not been served with the order reinstating Mr Mbugua by close of business yesterday.
Mr Mbugua, when filing his suit in April 2016, claimed he was handed “the pink slip” for, among other things, raising the alarm on irregular ticketing practices in some stations like London and recommending a review of KQ’S relationship with KLM.
He further argued that KQ’S massive losses should be blamed on former CEO Mbuvi Ngunze and former commercial director Gerard Clarke, saying they failed in their duties of ensuring the airline collects the targeted revenues.
This disagreement hit a crescendo in August when Mr Mbugua, in a letter to the airline’s chairman, Michael Joseph, accused Mr Ngunze of corruption and backstabbing.
He also roped in former chairman Dennis Awori in the decision to fire him from the top job.
The … termination of employment was unfair. The claimant (Mr Mbugua) is hereby reinstated back to his position as group finance director without loss of benefits and any lawful entitlement to be paid within 30 days.” Justice Monicah Mbaru
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