Thursday, June 1, 2023

Court orders British Nigerian Academy to pay dismissed staff N1m

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The National Industrial Court has ordered the British Nigerian Academy Ltd., to pay its dismissed staff member, Rita Lenber, N1 million for unlawful dismissal.

Delivering judgment, Justice Sanusi Kado, also declared that the termination of Lenber’s employment was wrongful.

In addition, the court ordered the defendant to pay the claimant the sum of N97, 818 as three months’ salary in lieu of notice.

He also ordered the academy to pay another N17, 000 as caution deductions, N72, 000 unpaid four years leave allowances, and N98, 983 as unremitted pension contributions.

Kado further directed that the order for payment should be complied with within 30 days.

The court in arriving at its decision held that the claimant’s purported dismissal was not done in compliance with the conditions of service of the defendant.

“There was no requisite notice of termination given or payment in lieu of notice and no recommendation by the disciplinary committee for termination of Lenber’s employment as provided for by the conditions of service.

“From facts, the claimant had posited that the defendant never issued her any letter of dismissal but was verbally dismissed by the Principal in clear violation of the terms, and conditions of service.

“Lenber further averred that she was never confronted with any allegation of misconduct, fraud nor was she invited to appear before any panel before her wrongful dismissal,” the judge said.

In defense, the defendant maintained that the dismissal of the claimant was valid, and in accordance with laid down procedures.

The defense also submitted that the dismissal was done in writing, and counterclaimed for the total sum of N750, 000 being rental value equivalent to its accommodation provided for the claimant between Sept.2015 to Feb. 2017.

The defense argued that an employee, who was resident in its premises accommodation was not entitled to the rent allowance that the claimant received from Sept. 2015 as a double accommodation benefit.

The School also argued that by living in its accommodation and receiving rent allowance simultaneously, the claimant needed to make a refund.

The court on its part after evaluating the submission of both parties held that there were no disciplinary measures taken in terms of setting up a disciplinary committee.

The court in addition held that the action taken by the defendant cannot be said to be within the purview of dismissal.

Kado affirmed that by virtue of one of the exhibits, the claimant’s employment was terminated.

According to the court, the claimant was not served with any letter of dismissal or termination, but she got wind of her dismissal, which was the reason she stayed away from work.

The court held that defendant’s conditions of service provided that termination shall be on approval of the director or school principal on the recommendation of the disciplinary committee set up to deliberate on the matter.

The court dismissed the counterclaim of the defendant of N750, 000 for lacking merit.


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