His Lordship, Hon. Justice Elizabeth Oji of the National Industrial Court, Lagos Judicial Division has declared the purported termination of the Mr. Olabode Akinyimika employment by the Royal Philips Netherlands as premature, mala fide and wrongful; ordered firm to pay Olabode the sum of USD15,000.00 as One month’s salary in lieu of notice and 10,000USD Two Months Gross Salary within 30 days.
The Court held that the defendants have not shown that they followed their General Business Principles; in establishing the misconduct indicated in justifying the termination of the Claimant’s employment without notice.
From facts, the Claimant- Olabode Akinyimika had submitted that he resumed work with the firm on the 31st December 2014 and continued to work at the Lagos office until his appointment was terminated on the 30th November 2015.
The Claimant – Olabode Akinyimika averred that he was invited to Accra by the GM, and arrived Accra for the annual operation plan presentation, but was handed a letter of termination of employment without notice, warning and without complying with the procedure stipulated in the General Business Principle and Investigation Guideline.
In defence, the Defendants had stated that the investigation of the Claimant for the alleged misconduct was carried out in camera because the company believed that the Claimant would interfere with the investigations that they complied fully with their General Business Principles, Investigative Guidelines and the contract of employment in terminating the Claimant’s contract.
The Defendants argued that Claimant’s response during cross-examination is proof of the alleged misconduct; thus making the termination right, that the Claimant has been fully paid his leave allowance and not entitled to any judgment.
They submitted that since the Claimant’s employment was not terminated on the grounds of redundancy, that Claimant’s injured feelings such as emotional or psychological trauma are mere sentimental values upon which there is no basis to ask for monetary damages.
Claimant’s- Olabode maintained that his employment having been unlawfully terminated, his employment still subsists and he is entitled to monthly salary and allowance until his employment is lawfully terminated.
Delivering judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Elizabeth Oji held that the Court has been called not to investigate the allegation of misconduct, but rather, whether the Defendants, in terminating the Claimant’s employment followed the procedure they laid down in their internal policies and general business principles.
“I have closely considered exhibit C3- Philips General Business Principle and Investigative Guideline. By virtue of pages 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Defendants’ Investigation Guideline which forms part of exhibit C3, any allegation of violation of General Business Principle as alleged in the letter of termination of employment, must be investigated in accordance with the Principles.
“The Defendants have not shown that the Claimant was informed of the findings of their investigation and confronted with it.
“Clearly, the Defendants did not comply with their Principles and Policies before they determined that the Claimant breached the General Business Principles and committed acts of dishonesty and conflict of interest. The Defendants did not give the Claimant fair hearing.
“Having failed to do that, I find that they are in breach of the terms of the contract between them and the Claimants; hence the termination without notice was wrongful. I so hold.”