Substantive and procedural requirements for a fair dismissal under Kenya's Employment Act: Dick Kwinga Nzoki v. Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd

The recent case of Dick Kwinga Nzoki v. Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd in the Employment and Labour Relations Court examined the substantive and procedural requirements for a fair dismissal under Kenya's Employment Act. The Hon. Justice Dr. Jacob Gakeri found that while there were valid reasons for Nzoki's dismissal after over 20 years of employment, the procedure followed was flawed and compensation was awarded. This case highlights the importance of complying with statutory disciplinary procedures and providing access to evidence when taking disciplinary action against employees. As Justice Gakeri stated, denying access to material evidence denies an employee a fair hearing. The case also clarified the requirements for proving negligent or improper conduct by an employee as grounds for termination.

Court: Employment and Labour Relations Court at Nairobi Judge: Hon. Justice Dr. Jacob Gakeri

Facts of the Case:

- Dick Kwinga Nzoki was employed by Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd from 1996 to 2017, rising to the role of Chief Administration Officer. - In 2013/14, Kenya Power budgeted for drilling a borehole at Rabai Control facility to address water shortage. Procurement was done and the project awarded to contractor Ring Technical Services. - The project required a hydrogeological survey and report. The contractor engaged a licensed hydrogeologist Karanja for this. His report was approved by WARMA in 2014. - Kenya Power made payments to the contractor based on recommendations of its Tender Processing Committee and project manager. - In 2016 and 2017, Nzoki was issued notices to show cause regarding deficiencies in the hydrogeological report and payments made without proper inspection or approval. - After a disciplinary hearing in June 2017, Nzoki was dismissed for negligence and failing to properly supervise the project and contractor.

Key Issues:

- Whether Nzoki's dismissal was substantively and procedurally fair under the Employment Act 2007. - Whether Nzoki is entitled to remedies for unfair termination.

Court's Determination:

- The dismissal was substantively justifiable based on negligence and failure in supervisory duties. However, procedurally it was flawed because Nzoki was denied access to key evidence like the project file for his defense. - The court awarded Nzoki one month salary for lack of notice, two months salary as compensation for procedural unfairness, costs and interest. - Claims for salary till retirement and punitive damages were dismissed. The employer's counterclaim was also disallowed.


- Employers must comply with procedural fairness requirements in disciplinary actions against employees. Denying access to evidence denies a fair hearing. - Reasons for dismissal must be valid, reasonable and supported by evidence. Negligence in duties can justify termination. - Compensation for unfair dismissal is discretionary and based on circumstances of each case. Claims for future salary till retirement are unsustainable.