KENYA -The Employment and Labour Relations Court has ordered Nairobi Bottlers Limited a Kenyan-based subsidiary of Coca-cola Beverages Africa, to compensate a former purchase officer, Ms. Beatrice Karwitha Kiragu, with Sh1.4 million for unfair dismissal from her job.
Ms. Kiragu was dismissed by the firm in August on the grounds that she had received Sh869,000 from a company named Oshgoh Commercial Agencies in 2014.
The company suspected this payment was a bribe from one of its suppliers, Waveline, which contravened its code of conduct.
Court documents revealed that Ms. Kiragu received the sum from Joshua Mugo, whom she had loaned money to facilitate his company, Oshgosh, in supplying CCTV, water, and sewerage systems to Makueni County.
However, Justice Stella Ruto of the Employment and Labor Relations Court ruled that Nairobi Bottlers had failed to provide evidence to support the corruption claims against Ms. Kiragu.
“It is, therefore, not in dispute that the claimant knew Joshua Mugo and transacted with him. What is in dispute is whether the said transactions amounted to a contravention of the respondent’s code of business ethics and company values by the claimant,” the judge stated.
Additionally, the judge pointed out that the connection between the respondent (Nairobi Bottlers) and Oshgoh and between Oshgoh and Waveline was not established.
This lack of evidence made it impossible to determine whether Ms. Kiragu had acted in a conflict of interest or received a bribe from a supplier.
Justice Ruto also highlighted that Ms. Kiragu was not provided with the charges against her by her former employer prior to the disciplinary proceedings, which hindered her ability to prepare an adequate defense.
In light of these findings, the court concluded that Nairobi Bottlers had failed to prove that Ms. Kiragu’s actions violated the company’s code of business conduct. Consequently, her dismissal was deemed irregular, leading to the compensation order.
This ruling served as a reminder of the importance of substantiating allegations before taking disciplinary actions against employees, and highlighted the need for a fair and transparent process in employment matters.