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Telecom company to pay restitution after rejecting job applicant due to disability 

Blindfolded justice holding up the scales

Safaricom must pay Sh6 million to a Kenyan man for denying him a job due to his vision disability. 

Justice James Makau ruled that Wilson Macharia’s right to be treated with dignity was violated by the telecommunications company.

Macharia launched a lawsuit against Safaricom, asserting that the company’s decision not to employ him on the basis of his disability was discriminatory and violated the Employment Act.

In his ruling, the judge stated, “The petitioner is awarded compensation under Article 23(3)(d) of the Constitution for violation of rights to be treated with dignity under Article 28 and 54(1) and for violation of rights to fair Administrative Action under Article 47 the sum of Sh6,000,000.”

According to The Star, Macharia additionally asked the court to declare Safaricom in contravention to sections 12(1), (2) and 15(1), (2) of the Persons with Disabilities Act as well as Article 1 and 27(1)(a) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities.

In this claim, he asked for compensation, exemplary and aggravated damages.

The petitioner told the court that, in or about August 2016, Safaricom advertised for a customer experience executive position through its website and a newspaper advertisement, stating it was committed to creating a “diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.”

“All qualified Kenyan applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, colour, religion, gender, tribal origin, disability or age,” the advertisement said in part.

Safaricom told The Star that it was steadfast in its commitment to employing all qualified candidates, including persons with disabilities (PWDs).

The shortlisted candidates, who included Macharia, were invited for a two-stage interview consisting of oral and technical evaluations on July 7, 2017.

Safaricom’s Employee and Labor Relations senior manager was told that one candidate, Macharia, could not take the computerised aptitude test due to his visual disability.

The Labour Relations manager told Macharia to proceed to the oral interview phase and that they would provide accommodation for Macharia to take the test at a later date.

The alternative, said Macharia, would have been to inform him he could not proceed with the interview, which they did not.

As reported by The Star, Safaricom confirmed that their manager did tell Macharia it would consider an accommodation because it had begun an initiative to hire 10 customer experience executives with vision disabilities.

The company had connected with software providers who were working with the internal technical team to review integrations with the existing systems to support this initiative, the court heard.

“This demonstrates the company’s willingness to promote opportunities for PWDs and that since the virtually impaired customer experience executives would later conduct a similar interview process as the one undertaken with respect to the recruitment in question, ” Safaricom stated.

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