Flower firm Rainforest Farmlands Kenya Limited sued in labor dispute

by Wakili Liam
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A former employee of Rainforest Farmlands Kenya Limited has sued the company for unfair dismissal.

David Njite, who worked as an electrician in the firm based in Naivasha, filed a suit filed at the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nakuru.

He is seeking compensation of Sh9 million, claiming he was employed on permanent and pensionable basis in September 2014

However, he claims he was sacked on April 28, when he returned to work after 14 days of isolation after contracting Covid-19.

The company referred to a disciplinary hearing held on April 6, 2021, and attended by the Human Resource Manager, General Manager, Regional Technical Representative and Njite. The company said it had satisfactorily proven issues of laxity and negligence against him.

Njite was accused of failing to maintain the electric fence to the required standards, failing to reconcile electrical items sent for repairs, delaying to recover items from repair suppliers, among others.

In the letter signed by General Manager Camilo Serrano, Njite was ordered to vacate the staff housing within 14 days. He, however, claims the reasons for termination of his employment were outside his job description. “In April 2021, the claimant fell sick, and upon tests, it was confirmed that he had contracted Covid-19. That meant he would isolate from work. Upon getting back to work, he was issued with a termination letter,” read the petition in part.

He claims the company further declared the position he held vacant.

He accuses the Regional Technical Representative of convincing the General Manager to terminate his employment and that the reason for termination was baseless.

Njite said a scheme to terminate his employment started when he was issued a memo on March 14. The memo directed him to return all company tools to their store, and he complied.

He said as he was returning the tools, the Regional Representative, without notice, searched his office and collected some machines, terming them tools not returned.

The company denied the allegations raised against it and claimed the termination of Njite’s employment was fair and based on valid grounds. “The claimant’s (Njite) suit as pleaded is misconceived and should be dismissed with cost to the respondent (flower company),” read the response.

The company claims Njite, during his employment, was given a laptop and its bag, which he did not return upon dismissal.

The company claims Njite is liable to it for special damages of Sh100,572 for the laptop, the bag, a wireless mouse and foregone rent of Sh60,000 for the period he had been in illegal occupation of cottage since April. The case will be mentioned on October 19. 

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