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The court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil causes and matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employee, worker and matter incidental thereto or connected therewith.

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Industrial Court orders firm to buy Komolafe iPhone, awards N780k damages, N500k cost for wrongful termination and assault within 30 days


290 Wednesday 31st August 2022

The Presiding Judge, Abuja Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, has declared the employment termination of Mr. Komolafe John as wrongful and ordered Rutotech Intl. Limited to pay Komolafe the sum of N65,000.00 (Sixty Five Thousand Naira) as 14 days' salary in lieu of notice; N49,523.81 (Forty-Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Twenty Three Naira, Eighty One Kobo) for the 8 days he worked in September 2017; N259,850.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty-Nine Thousand, Eight Hundred and Fifty Naira) as medical expenses, N160,000 (One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira) being the cost of the broken iPhone 6.


The Court further held that the failure of Rutotech Intl. Limited to pay Mr. Komolafe's salary in lieu of notice on the day his employment was terminated as stipulated in the employment contract amounts to a breach of the employment contract, ordered the firm and one other to jointly and severally pay Komolafe the sum of N780,000.00 (Seven Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira) as general damages and N500,000.00 cost of action with other payment within 30 days.


From facts, the claimant- Mr. Komolafe John had submitted that he was assaulted by his superior while on duty and his iPhone 6 got broken, went to the hospital for examination and found to have second-degree multiple injuries, and was placed on analgesics and antibiotics; and advised to see an ophthalmologist. 


He stated that on 8th September 2017 during work hours, he received a query by email and was required to respond to same within 2 hours which he did and reiterated what transpired, that few minutes after his response to the query, he received a letter of termination by email and was not paid his salary for the month of September 2017 and for subsequent months till date.


He further averred that the termination of his employment from the 1st defendant without a fair hearing and without following the due process of law is a gross breach of his fundamental rights as set out in the labour laws, and he’s entitled to be recalled to the firm and paid his benefits/entitlements from the date of the termination of employment till date and after the judgement.


In defense, the 1st defendant- Rutotech Intl. Limited stated Komolafe was given the opportunity to be heard in his response to the query issued to him that fighting in the premises of its clients, engaging in acts of indiscipline, insubordination, and incidence of violence amounts to gross misconduct, and as such the claimant is not entitled to any benefit or entitlement. 


The firm further stated that the continued detention of the 1st defendant’s access cards and properties, and the failure of the claimant to conclude the exit processes have resulted in the non-payment of his salary for the month of September 2017.


The 2nd defendant- Huawei Technologies averred that it is not the employer of Mr. Komolafe, and cannot recall him into any employment position, urged the court to dismiss the case.


In opposition, the claimant learned counsel, Oluwaseyi Arowosebe submitted that his client was not given notice or paid his salary in lieu of notice as admitted by the 2 firms in their pleadings, and therefore the termination is wrongful, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.


In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Obaseki-Osaghae held that Mr. Komolafe has not established a co-employer relationship between the 1st and 2nd defendants that Rutotech Intl. Limited is the only employer of Mr. Komolafe and dismissed the case against Huawei Technologies for no cause of action.


The Court held that the failure of Rutotech Intl. Limited to pay Mr. Komolafe’s salary in lieu of notice on the day his employment was terminated as stipulated in the employment contract is a breach of the employment contract. 


Justice Obaseki further held that Mr. Komolafe has given evidence that he was traumatized having been beaten and battered by his superior in the course of carrying out his professional duties and a duty of care is owed by an employer to his employee/worker in the course of carrying out his duties.


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