The Aga Khan University has been ordered to pay a former employee Sh480,724 as compensation for wrongful dismissal.
Yvonne Adamba had sued the university for terminating her contract over claims that she was dishonest in her work.
Justice James Rika on December 15 ruled that the termination was unfair.
But he said it was not clear how the use of the word ‘dishonest’ would affect her employability.
“An accountant with the tag ‘unprofessional’ is no better than one wearing a jersey marked ‘dishonest.’ This was an insignificant play of semantics,” the judge said.
Adamba said she was employed by the institution between August 15, 2008 and until November 10, 2016. Adamba’s duties included the management and maintenance of respondent’s fleet of vehicles. She earned a monthly salary of Sh120,181.
She said Aga Khan issued her a letter to show cause why she should not be disciplined on October 10, 2016. She replied on October 12, 2016. A disciplinary hearing was held at the university’s offices in Nairobi on November 2, 2016.
Adamba was summarily dismissed on November 10, 2016, on grounds of dishonesty.
She prayed for the court to declare that termination was unfair and grant her judgment against the respondent for Sh1.8 million.
Aga Khan University, however, defended itself, saying that in August 2016, the internal audit department investigated irregularities in fuel usage at its community health department in Mombasa.
It was found that drivers were draining off fuel tanks, approximately 80 litres per vehicle daily from Petro Oil Buxton Station.
They would then submit full fuel receipts to the finance manager, who together with the director, CHD, approved the payment. The report recommended disciplinary action against all involved staff.
Adamba was invited to a disciplinary hearing. She was heard and summarily dismissed.
Adamba was given a reason for the decision, which was a failure to give the institution a credible explanation to exonerate herself from gross misconduct allegations and the university had lost faith in her.
The university also said her actions were dishonest and facilitated payment of exorbitant fuel costs, contrary to her contract of employment and institutional policies.