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Terry Muikamba sues Radio Africa for Sh5.6m, gets Sh6k only

Former Classic 105 drive show presenter Teresia Wanjiru Muikamba, popularly known as Terry Muikamba, has lost a suit where she had sued her former employer Radio Africa Group seeking Sh5,662,738.68 for “constructive dismissal” in 2020.

Ms Muikamba was seeking Sh2,160,000 being the value of “unexpired contract” and Sh3,502,738.68 as general damages for unlawful termination equivalent to 12 months’ pay that is for what she termed as wrongful and unfair termination.

However, she has only been granted Sh6,000 for her voice over services in a ruling delivered by the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi on May 30, 2023.

Ms Muikamb had sued the company at the Employment and Labour Relations Court in 2021 seeking compensation in a suit where she claimed she was forced to resign from the company owing to a toxic working environment which amounted to constructive dismissal.

Constructive dismissal entails a situation where an employer creates an environment in which the employee has no option but to resign.

Ms Muikamba cited “severe, harsh, abusive treatment and harassment from the company’s director of programs Mr Peter Sinclair which she claimed amounted to constructive dismissal as reasons for her resignation.

But Justice Nzioka wa Makau dismissed her claims ruling that in accordance with the evidence adduced, Ms Muikamba left employment with Radio Africa Group for greener pastures despite the company offering an enhanced package.

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The judge said having left the company voluntarily, Ms Muikamba did not establish the elements necessary for her to recover damages from Radio Africa Group.

Ms Muikamba had claimed that Mr Sinclair started subjecting her to the conditions sometime in 2018 while she was going through some medical difficulties.

She argued that Mr Sinclair consistently hurled insults and obscenities at her, creating an untenable hostile working environment and despite the harassments being reported to the management through the Human Resource Department, no active steps were taken to remedy the situation.

The media personality further claimed that Mr Sinclair’s harassment and insults became more gross and personal after she lodged the complaint with the HR, demonstrating that he was untouchable and operated with impunity within the company.

She added that owing to the fact that Mr Sinclair’s heinous acts had created a hostile working environment making it intolerable for her to continue her obligations and owing to the lack of protection from the Radio Africa Group, she had no choice but to tender her resignation letter on September 17, 2020 confirming that her last day of employment would be on November 25, 2020.

The radio host claimed that the conduct of Mr Sinclair and Radio Africa Group amounted to a fundamental breach of her rights and created an extremely hostile and untenable working environment, constraining her to issue a resignation letter.

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But Radio Africa Group challenged her claims of constructive dismissal through bullying and harassment as unfounded since she claimed to have been harassed for a period exceeding two years and never reported the same.

Radio Africa Group told the court through HR manager Ms Jemimah Ngonde that Ms Muikamba was subjected to various appraisals between 2018 and 2020 where she was invited to comment on her work environment and even renewed her contract with the company in 2019.

The company said at no point did Ms Muikamba raise any issue concerning her work environment.

The court was told that the celebrated radio presenter did not make any formal or written complaint until 25th September 2020 when she was resigning.

Ms Ngonde also said Ms Muikamba informed the company on November 12, 2020, that she was satisfied with the remedial steps taken to address the issues she had raised in her resignation letter.

The company’s management had held a meeting with the Drive Show team on September 30, 2020 with a view of remedying the situation after Ms Muikamba raised the claims in her resignation letter.

In the meeting attended by among others the company’s CEO Patrick Quarcoo, it was discovered that other members of the team had also raised issues against Mr Sinclair.

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And the CEO acknowledged that Mr Sinclair’s conduct was unacceptable and committed to address and resolve all Ms Muikamba’s grievances.

Mr Quarcoo implored on Ms Muikamba to retract her resignation letter as his commitment to address her grievances would have obviated her reasons for resigning.

Justice Makau said correspondence between the parties suggests there was a meeting and discussion between Ms Muikamba and Mr Quarcoo.

“Unfortunately, the claimant (Ms Muikamba) did not follow up the said meeting with any email or correspondence to cement any discussions as may have been held. As such her allegations that there was a compulsion to accept terms that were unpalatable to her were not proved,” Justice Makau ruled.

“She did resign and without drawing a nexus between her resignation and the conduct of Mr Sinclair, the claim of constructive dismissal is unproved.”

The judge however ordered the company to pay Ms Muikamba Sh6,000 for her voice over services and issue her a certificate of service in accordance with section 51 of the Employment Act.

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