- Eva Bessy Kathambi averred that her injury was occasioned solely by Safaricom’s negligence, carelessness, breach of statutory duty, and breach of contract after she was subjected to prolonged hours of receiving calls. She was not provided with safe and proper devices for such work
By The Weekly Vision
A former Safaricom employee whose contract was unfairly terminated has won a case against the company and will be compensated. Judge James Rika in a ruling dated 25th July 2023 awarded Eva Bessy Kathambi Ksh. 2,500, 000 for general damages, pain, suffering, mental anguish, and loss of amenities.
Eva Kathambi was employed by Safaricom on 5th May 2008, as a Customer Care Representative. She was aged 26 years when she was appointed and had been medically examined before her appointment; the company confirmed that she was in good health, particularly concerning her ears and throat. According to her affidavit, her work entailed but was not limited to, working at Safaricom’s Call Centre. She constantly communicated with Safaricom’s customers, receiving and attending to their complaints. She constantly wore headsets, in the discharge of her role.
She served diligently until she was diagnosed with functional dysphonia. She lost her voice. She was operated on for thymus swelling in March 2011, but her voice did not improve, she had repeated throat endoscopy and underwent voice therapy sessions. According to Kathambi, Safaricom paid for only 4 sessions and ceased further payment without reason. She continued to pay for herself for another 6 months, and only stopped paying when she ran out of funds.
Kathambi averred that her injury was occasioned solely by Safaricom’s negligence, carelessness, breach of statutory duty, and breach of contract. She was subjected to prolonged hours of receiving calls. She was not provided with safe and proper devices for such work. Later Safaricom’s doctors recommended that she be placed on sick leave, and thereafter placed on different assignments, away from the Call Centre. She was recalled after 1 month and deployed to SMS Centre. However, on 9th October 2012, at the age of 31 years, she was retired on medical grounds and required to sign a letter dated 5th October 2012 exonerating Safaricom from liability; she refused to sign the letter.
Her last salary was Ksh. 76,766 monthly; records at Safaricom indicate that she was assigned line 100 at Call Centre, taking care of customer needs. In 2010, she lost her voice for 10 days. She was there for about 2 months, before being moved to line 234, dealing with M-pesa queries. She continued to lose her voice and was moved to the voiceless SMS section. She worked in the SMS section until 12th October 2012, when she was forced to retire on medical grounds. The judge in his ruling noted that there is sufficient evidence to show that Safaricom acted negligently, and did not provide her with proper and safe call devices, and a safe system of work.
The ruling reads in part “There is no dispute that the Claimant, sustained paralysis of her vocal cord; she suffered mental anguish; she was carjacked and could not scream for help; her uncultured Lecturer, referred to her as a mute; and she was told, that she is beautiful, but nonetheless a mute. She was constantly in pain, and on bed rest. Her quality of life was impaired. Ultimately, she lost her employment and her source of income, at a tender age of 31 years, on the ground of her occupational injury or illness”.