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Portland Cement CEO accused of sexual harassment by his junior

The East African Portland Cement Company’s Chief Executive Officer Simon Peter Ole Nkeri is embroiled in a legal tussle with a top manager in the said firm over sexual harassment allegations.

In a suit, Lucy Rimanto Molonket, the head of Sales and Marketing at Portland, accuses Mr Nkeri of causing her frustrations and harassment at her work place besides sexually harassing her on August 31.

She further accuses him of spearheading her transfer from a position she has served since 2014 and has been earning Sh 698,500 in a month to being the head of special projects.

But according to the company’s board chairman Bill Lay, the company has been facing financial difficulties as well as incurred a loss of Sh1,584,571, which has seen 11 of its manager transferred to newer departments and Ms Molonket is among them.

But through lawyer Tom Ojienda, Ms Molonket claimed that Mr Nkeri sexually assaulted her in her office at around 12pm contrary to the requirement of the constitution, which guarantees equal treatment of both gender in all social spheres.

In her case documents, she says that Mr Nkeri sent her an apology via SMS for his “perversion and unbecoming behavior” at 10pm on the same day.

But she, however, took the dispute to a board member, Mr Julius Korir, who had the matter discussed in a meeting on September 21.

She claims that the Anti-Sexual harassment manual policy in the company requires that such complains be handled within a week after being reported to a next level manager or a board member.

Unknown to her, she claims, the CEO embarked on “continued harassment” to the extent of issuing directives to her junior staff and even asked her to go on a leave so that the company could formulate a new job description for her.

She argued that three meetings have so far been held by the board after the incident was reported but no action has been taken apart from authorizing her appointment to a “non-existent position” on October 3 through a letter dated September 30.

“She is the only employee of the department of special projects, there is no even physical office to this department, this is clearly a wider scheme to render her redundant, these frustrations and harassment violates her right to fair labour practices,” said Mr Ojienda.

She accuses Mr Nkeri of blackmailing and intimidating her on baseless claims that monies have been lost in her department under her leadership hence the need for the transfer.

She also accuses the CEO of having a history of sexual harassment cases which have been brought to the attention of the Ethics And Anti-Corruption Commission and that a petition has also been presented challenging his August appointment.

“She is apprehensive that she is being victimized for reporting the sexual harassment incident against the CEO and the board is seemingly covering him up,” said Mr Ojienda.

Mr Lay told court that her new post has nothing to do with the sexual harassment claim and defended Mr NKeri’s appointment saying that it was done in accordance with the law.

While denying that her new post was as a result of the sexual harassment claims, Mr Lay argued that if she had an issue with her new appointment she should have complained to the management.

However, the court could hear none of this and issued orders stopping her transfer to the new post in an order that was first issued on November 11 by Justice Linnet Ndolo and was extended on Wednesday by Justice Nelson Abuodha.

Justice Abuodha also directed Industry, trade and Cooperative Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, the EACC and the Criminal Investigation Department who are listed as interested parties in the case to respond to the suit in 14 days.

The case will be mentioned on January 23.