How Mediamax lost Sh3.9 million case against Jeff Koinange

Untold story of Jeff's exit from K24 where he was getting Sh650,000 a month

How Mediamax lost Sh3.9 million case against Jeff Koinange after resignation without notice

Mediamax Limited is in the news this week after announcing 170 journalists would be fired from the various stations it operates.

Reports indicate retrenched employees will be getting one month's salary advance in lieu of notice.

The highly publicized firings have exposed the rarely seen pain and the tense relations that exist between popular journalists and their employers.

Indeed, acclaimed journalist Jeff Koinange, credited with turning around Mediamax’s television station, K24, had a legal confrontation with his employer after announcing resignation from the TV station.

Jeff resigned in 2012 after serving for five years at the station. He had joined the newly started station in 2007 shortly after being fired by CNN – and was instrumental in giving the station brand prominence given his career reputation.

After Five Fantastic Years at K24, I feel it’s time to move on because I’m a firm believer that sometimes it’s best to move on when one is at the ‘Top’ of their game. I am therefore herewith tendering my resignation from K24 and giving my notice,” Koinange’s resignation letter read in part.

Three months after his resignation, Jeff was asked to pay Sh3.9 million to his employer for leaving without notice.

"We acknowledge receipt of your resignation notice on email dated 14.12.2012 after which you left the company immediately. However according to the terms of your Employment Contract Clause 12.2 you are required to give six months notice period or six months pay in lieu of notice. The Company is now demanding the six months salary in lieu of notice an amount of Kshs. 3, 900,000,” Mediamax said in a letter signed by then Executive Director Granton Samboja (now Taita Taveta Governor).

Jeff, who had landed a lucrative job with a TV station in South Africa, initially offered to clear the money claimed by Mediamax with one cheque.

However, his representative would in June 2014 write to the media house, offering to pay the amount through installments of Sh50,000.

Mediamax responded by suing their former star anchor – demanding 3.9 million. Jeff had a basic monthly pay of Kshs.650, 000 at the time of his resignation which Mediamax wanted to be paid for each of the six months that he would have worked on notice.

Jeff’s lawyers reacted with a counterclaim, saying the case should not only have been terminated, but that he was owed Sh 1.365 million in lieu of the five years he had served without taking annual leave.

The court ruled that Mediamax had misinterpreted the contract and noted that he did not have to pay his employer if employment was terminated on grounds of immediate resignation.

The claimant (Mediamax) consciously and by agreement allowed the respondent (Koinange) to suddenly resign and which was a better term of service in favour of the employee and not an infringement upon the minimum terms of service under section 35 as read with 36 of the Act".

The Court holds that it will always be lawful for the employer to confer upon the employee more favourable terms of service beyond the statutory minimum terms or conditions of service and conferring the employee terms and conditions of service below the minimum statutory provisions will always be unlawful,” the court ruled.

Jeff's demand for pay in lieu of annual leave was dismissed as the window period for such claims had already lapsed.

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