OPD Wins Compensation For Wrongful Termination Of Contract Over Health Status
The Lagos State government through the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) has won the sum of over Two million naira for a former worker ( name withheld ) of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, Lagos for wrongful termination of employment, stigmatization, embarrassment, psychological and emotional trauma. The company is also to pay the former staff the sum of One hundred thousand naira as the cost of action.
Delivering judgement in the case, Hon. Justice Ikechi Nweneka of the National Industrial Court, Lagos Division said the Defendant ( Ocean Marine Solutions Limited) did not provide the Claimant with a contract of employment in breach of the Labour Act, and threw the Claimant into the society without support whatsoever.
The court said further that the Defendant showed flagrant disregard for the Claimant’s fundamental rights to privacy, dignity and freedom from discrimination on account of her HIV positive status.
There were several attempts at negotiated settlement by the Citizens’ Mediation Centre but it proved abortive hence OPD waded in and took legal action against the company on behalf of the sacked worker.
The former worker was employed by Ocean Marine Solutions Limited as a cleaner in 2017 and in April of 2018, she was directed by the company with other five staff to go for a medical examination at a private medical centre on Victoria Island, Lagos.
The company did not inform her of the nature of the medical test and the result was not disclosed to her, but was sent directly to the company upon which the Human Resources and Administrative Managers at various times confronted her and demanded if she had done HIV test during the birth of her children. She responded in the negative and was thereafter directed to go home and take HIV test.
Same-day after the directive to go home, she began to receive sympathy, discriminatory and embarrassing messages from her colleagues and was forced to undergo another round of test before being directed not to return to the office until receipt of the test result.
She was not told the nature of the test when she demanded to know and not counselled before it was done. The result was also sent to the company which led to her being locked out of the company’s premises by its management and subsequent termination of her employment.
The company in its defence, denied all her claims and said it did not schedule her for HIV test but full medical test. That a consent form was provided for her by the health facility but because she could not read English, her colleagues filled the form for her and she signed it. The court upheld the worker submission as presented and argued by OPD Counsel and awarded compensation to the Claimant.
The Defendant company has since paid the judgment sum through the Office of the Public Defender to the Claimant and the former worker has collected the bank draft in satisfaction of the judgment debt.
Speaking on the case, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the State, Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN lauded the judgement and said days of impunity, unlawful termination of employment contract based on sex discrimination, religion and health status are over in Lagos state while assuring residents of the protection of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the T.H.E.M.E.S development agenda of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
He therefore urged residents of the state to approach the Office of the Public Defender for free legal services.