Court Awards N52.456m in Damages to Former Guinness Employee

In a verdict handed down in Port Harcourt, the National Industrial Court has directed Guinness Nigeria Plc, along with three other entities, to provide Bright Nwosu, a former staff member, with a compensation of ₦52,456,000 million as a result of his wrongful job termination.

Bright Nwosu, who had been employed as a Sales Executive by Guinness Nigeria Plc since 2004, became a defendant in a lawsuit against the company on September 18, 2019, after experiencing an unjust disengagement.

Ruling on the matter identified as NICN/PHC/108/2019, Justice Nelson Ogbuanya’s court declared that Guinness Nigeria Plc’s decision to terminate Nwosu’s employment lacked justification. The court emphasised that the evidence presented clearly indicated the sacked employee’s dedication to his duties before his job was terminated.

However, the court deemed the clause in Guinness employees’ handbook, which permitted the termination of employees without the need to explicitly state reasons, as unacceptable.

Consequently, the Judge ruled that Guinness must provide Nwosu with ₦19 million in addition to ₦886,000 for his terminal benefit and gratuity, taking into consideration his 15-year tenure prior to his dismissal.

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In addition, the court ruled that Guinness must remit Nwosu’s outstanding two months’ salary, amounting to N570,000 (Five Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira), in lieu of notice.

The judge made it clear that all awarded sums in the claimant’s favor must be disbursed within two months following the judgment’s delivery, with a caution that any delay would trigger a 10 percent annual interest charge until the entire amount is settled.

In discussions with the press outside the courtroom, Cletus Azunku, the counsel representing the claimant, and holding the brief for A. A. Brown, lauded the court’s decision.

He stressed that this ruling could discourage employers in the country from engaging in victimisation of their employees

Azunku stated, ‘The judgment is a very good one, it serves as a deterrent to every other employer.’

‘In the classification of employment under our labour law, this falls under master-servant relationship, even though that master has the prerogative to terminate a contract of employment at any point in time, records must be heard to the provision of the contract of employment if there should be any regulation at all, then the provision must be followed to the letter.’

Meanwhile, counsel for the defendants, K. C. Eze, refused to make comments when approached, noting that he wasn’t allowed to give details to the press regarding the matter.

Africa Today News, New York

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