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Worker sues ex-employers for alleged wrongful dismissal

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Tetra Pak West Afica<br />Housessories

A former resourcing specialist at Tetra Pak West Africa Ltd, Elo Ogodo, has sued her former employers at the National Industrial Court, Lagos accusing them of sacking her on racial grounds.

Ogodo is praying the court to hold that her sack was due to racial discrimination, as she was never accused of any gross misconduct or criminality in the course of her job.

She sought an order directing Tetra Pak to pay her N7million as her severance benefits, N100million as damages for unfair labour practices which resulted in her psychological trauma, shock, mental agony, embarrassment, inconveniences, odium and obloquy, and N100million as punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages for unfair labour practices against her.

The claimant said she was employed as a human resources and administrative officer on September 27, 2010, and in 2014 was promoted to a resourcing specialist role managing all white collar activities within the Greater Middle East & Africa (GME&A) cluster, namely Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Dubai, Turkey, Egypt as well as South, East and West Africa.

She said despite not being able to speak Arabic and her inability to make phone or video calls to Arab countries due to restrictions imposed by Western countries, she met 93 per cent of her recruitment requirements and was rated the third best performer in the company.

Ogodo said despite risking everything for her job, including her marriage, it came as a rude shock to her when she was asked to sign for the severance of her contract.

She claimed she was not given a fair hearing, and that racial slurs directed at her, being the only black person in a team comprising Pakistani, white South Africans, Indians, Saudi, Tunisian and Turkish.

“The termination of her contract is unconnected to the performance of her duty, which she discharged excellently well, but was occasioned by an ulterior motive precipitated by prejudice, bigotry and racial discrimination against the claimant by the defendant,” her statement of claim reads.

The claimant said a Tunisian, Ben Dhouah, whom she was directed to help, had 42 per cent recruitment rate, while she had 93 per cent, yet Dhouah was retained.

She urged the court not to allow the “sham reasons” given for her sack to stand, so as not to put her career in jeopardy.

But, the defendant denied the allegations of racial discrimination, urging the court to dismiss the suit.

Tetra Pak said Ogodo was placed on performance improvement plan and that she was relieved of her duties when she did not meet expectations.

The matter has been adjourned to September 13.


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