[Judgment] Industrial Court Orders ECOBANK to pay Ex-staff gratuity, severance allowance within 30 Days
Akure---His Lordship, Hon. Justice Abiola Adewemimo of the National Industrial Court sitting in Akure has ordered Ecobank Nigeria Ltd to pay her former staff Onyebezie Ruth the sum of One million, Five thousand, Eight hundred and Ninety-One naira, Sixty Three kobo) as gratuity/severance allowance, N63,255 as balance for one month salary in lieu of notice and N250,000 cost of action within 30 days.
The claimant by a Complaint before this court on the 27th October, 2017 claims against the Defendant amongst others for the sum of N2,533,711.92 (Two Million, Five Hundred And Thirty Three Thousand, Seven Hundred And Eleven Naira, Ninety Two Kobo) being the terminal benefits due and payable to the Claimant by the Defendant upon determination of the Claimant’s appointment with the Defendant on 7th June, 2017 and interest on the above sum of N2,533,711.92.
The claimant’s case is that she was employed as a Teller/Cashier, dated on 13th July 2007 until the 7th of June, 2017 when the defendant suddenly determined her appointment without any notice.
The claimant pleaded that the action of the defendant in denying her entitlements is wrong and in breach of the extant conditions of service between the parties and the Bank’s usual practice and amount to discrimination in breach of Articles 15 and 28 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
In reply, the defendant contended that the claimant is not entitled/qualified for gratuity as she did not work with the defendant for the prescribed 10 years prior to the termination of her employment that the Claimant’s employment was terminated specifically for violating the conditions of her employment with the defendant urged the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety as same is frivolous, vexatious and gold-digging.
Furthermore, the defendant counter-claimed against the claimant totalling the sum ofN3,750,000.00(Three Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira Only), as special and general damages for malicious prosecution.
In opposition, Learned claimant’s counsel described the counter-claim as strange, spurious and contrary to public policy liable to be dismissed with substantial costs and urged the court to do so.
Delivering the Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Adewemimo held that the assertion by the defendant that the claimant’s appointment was terminated for violation of the rules of the Bank is untenable and unreliable.
“It is the law that the court is not permitted to read into a document what is not therein stated, the defendant, in this case, claimed that the claimant’s employment was terminated for flouting the rules and policy of the Bank, however in the face of the documentary evidence and testimony available before this court, there is no evidence to back up the claim of the defendant and the denial of the claimant’s legitimate entitlements.
“On whether or not the claimant is entitled to the reliefs sought. A combined reading of the above along with Clause 11.2.4(b) reveals that the entitlement of the claimant under a gratuity scheme or separation scheme is to be computed at one month salary for the number of years spent by the claimant with the defendant.
“Consequently, the claim before this court is in no way malicious as to warrant an award for damages as captured in the counter-claim. Moreover, the defendant/counter-claimant failed to adduce any cogent evidence in proof of the malice of the claimant.
The court ordered the defendant to pay the claimant a sum of N1,005,891.63K (One million, five thousand, eight hundred and ninety-one naira, sixty-three kobo) as gratuity/severance allowance, N63,255 as the balance for one month salary in lieu of notice and N250,000 cost of action within 30 days.
The court dismissed the counter-claimed for lacking merit.