His Lordship, Hon. Justice Dele Peters of the National Industrial Court, sitting in Lagos has declared the employment termination of Mr. David Aweh from Oxford Hotels Limited as wrongful; ordered firm to pay Aweh the sum of N503,000.00 deducted and Outstanding salary, N400,000 salaries in lieu of notice, with N200,000 cost of action within 30 days.
The Court held that there is no justification for the conduct of the firm and the same is against both national laws as well as international labour best practice.
From facts, the Claimant- Mr. David Aweh had claimed that upon employment he was allocated a car as an official vehicle with no document given to that effect, that while on his way to work, he had an accident with the car, that he offered to bear 50% of the cost of repairs of the vehicle; that the Defendant started to deduct 50% of his salary to meet the 50% of the cost he undertook to bear.
He further submitted that he subsequently tendered a letter of resignation giving the 2 months' notice in accordance with the terms and conditions of his employment, that upon receiving his letter, Defendant replied and, summarily terminated his employment with immediate effect; that the Defendants also refused to pay the already accrued salary for the last month he worked and also refused to pay two months' salary in lieu of notice as envisaged by his contract of employment.
The defendant counter-claimed for the cost of the vehicle involved in the accident, among others that the Claimant was on his own frolic at the time he had an accident with the company vehicle; that the firm reserved the right to summarily terminate the employment of the Claimant instead of payment in lieu of notice.
The firm submitted further that it was Claimant that elected to pay 50% of the cost of repairs of the vehicle; that the vehicle was never fully repaired and it became a write-off due to the accident.
Learned Counsel to the claimant, L. A. Agu Esq. prayed the Court to dismiss the counter-claim of =N=5,000,000.00 for not supported by any evidence, and urged the court to grant all reliefs sought.
Delivering Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Dele Peters held that to reject a letter of resignation of appointment amounts to compelling an employee to remain in employment against his will.
“This conduct of the Defendant amounts to termination of employment of the Claimant. Unfortunately, the Defendant failed to comply with the requirement of 2 months' notice. This makes the termination wrongful.
“I hold that there is no valid justification for the action of the Defendant in deducting from salary and remunerations of the Claimant. The Defendant did not deny deducting the salary of the Claimant to the tune of =N=303,000.00. It only offered an explanation as to why it did so.
“I have found and held that there is no justification for the conduct of the Defendant and that same is against both national laws as well as international best practice in labour.”
Lastly, the Court dismissed the counter-claim for lack of proof.