By Alois Vinga
THE Labour Court has ruled as unlawful the decision by Harare City Council (HCC) owned company, Harare Quarry (Pvt) Ltd to fire an employee in a development which will see the worker pocketing ZW$1 million.
Justice Lawrence Murasi ruled that Harare Quarry Private Limited’s general manager Antonio Zvoutete, who was dismissed from employment in March 2021 suffered the prejudice of a poorly constituted disciplinary committee.
“The decision of the respondent’s disciplinary authority finding the applicant guilty of misconduct culminating in her dismissal be and is hereby set aside. The matter is admitted for a hearing before a differently constituted Disciplinary Authority whose hearing shall take place within sixty days,” the judge ordered.
During the proceedings, the employee’s legal representative, Albert Chambati argued that the disciplinary proceedings and suspension against the applicant who reported directly to the respondent’s board were a nullity and grossly irregular as they were not duly authorised by the respondent’s board of directors.
“The respondent failed to produce and furnish proof during the disciplinary proceedings in the form of the board of directors meeting minutes and the subsequent board of directors’ resolution authorising the suspension of the applicant and the conducting of disciplinary proceedings against the applicant,” he said.
Chambati said there was reasonable suspicion that the disciplinary authority was biased as respondent’s legal practitioners had shared a legal opinion with the Disciplinary Authority on how to conduct the proceedings.
“The same legal practitioners had also participated in handpicking the “disciplinary” authority to deliberate on the matter,” he argued.
In mitigation, Harare Quarry Private Limited said it was not a requirement in disciplinary proceedings at the workplace for the employer to furnish a board resolution authorising the said proceedings.
The employer argued that the party alleging the bias had to proffer and proffer evidence which would allow the tribunal to come to the conclusion that there was such a possibility.
“It is not in dispute that the legal opinion complained about by the applicant was forwarded to the Disciplinary Authority. What the disciplinary authority did with it when he received it is the subject of factual contention,” the respondent said.