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Ex-Tatu city boss awarded Sh28m for wrongful dismissal

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The Employment and Labour Relations Court has awarded the former chief executive officer of Tatu City Limited Sh27.5 million for wrongful dismissal after it ruled that the board of directors kicked out Lucas Akungu Omariba without providing any reason for the sacking.

Justice Onesmus Makau cited Sections 43 and 45 of the Employment Act which require an employer to provide the reason(s) for termination of employment. The judge also added that the real estate developer did not discharge the burden of proof to show that the firing of Omariba was lawful and fair.

The CEO was fired in February 2015 over what the company alleged was gross insubordination to the board of directors, absenteeism, and breach of confidentiality and the duty of fidelity which led to deterioration of the relationship between the two parties.

One Christopher John Barron from Rendeavour Limited which is the leading shareholder of Tatu City, testified in Omariba’s case where he told the court that the CEO was asked for information by Rendeavour but failed to provide the information, which amounted to insubordination and consequently, his sacking.

He also accused the CEO of making negative comments on Rendeavour’s directors and staff admitted that the termination letter did not cite any reasons for the sacking.

Barron who was the Tatu City operations manager reporting to the CEO at the time of the dismissal further argued that there was friction among the directors which made it difficult to conduct a disciplinary hearing on the allegations leveled against Mr Omariba.

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The court was also told that Mr Omariba retained company property and documents and refused to return them even after he was sacked and deliberately contravened the confidentiality of his contract by sharing sensitive information about the firm with third parties.

The company then sought a permanent injunction restraining Mr Omariba from breaching the confidentiality clause which the court declined to issue as the judge said the company did not demonstrate the information at stake and the risk to its business.

But the court directed the CEO to return the company property which includes two handsets (iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c) or pay Tatu City Ltd half the purchase price as the replacement cost because he used the devices to conduct company business.


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