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No damages for bank manager accused of sexual harassment

A former manager of Equity Bank who was sacked following allegations of sexually harassing a beneficiary of the Wings To Fly program has suffered a blow after the Employment and Labor Relations court ruled he is not entitled to any damages.

Justice Byram Ongaya ruled that although the bank did not establish the veracity of the allegations, the claimant, Charles Ngochi, vigorously contributed to his termination.

In his verdict, Mr Ongaya observed that Mr Ngochi, as business growth and development manager at Mumias branch, breached the Wings to Fly child protection policy which among other things barred the staff from developing physical or sexual relationships with beneficiaries.

TOUCHING HER BREASTS

Mr Ngochi had been accused by the beneficiary of forcefully hugging her, touching her breasts and unbuttoning her blouse when he took her for lunch at a hotel after visiting her home in 2013.

He had visited the home to ascertain whether the beneficiary had been selected on the basis of her poor background.

He denied going to the hotel with the beneficiary, but admitted having driven with her in his private car to her home.

At the same time however, Justice Ongaya faulted the bank for not availing the beneficiary to testify in court, not having her cross examined by Mr Ngochi at the disciplinary hearing and concluding at the hearing that the allegations were likely to be true based on the incidences and contradictions of the claims.

DISCREPANCIES

Justice Ongaya further noted discrepancies on the dates of the alleged incident given by both Mr Ngochi and the beneficiary.

“On a balance of probability and the scholar having not testified and in light of the cited discrepancies, the court finds that the respondent has failed to establish that the claimant sexually assaulted the scholar as alleged,” said Ongaya in his 12-page ruling.

He therefore declared that the termination of Mr Ngochi’s employment was unfair for want of a valid reason and directed Equity Bank to pay 25 per cent of his costs of the suit.