Employee awarded Sh13.7M as damages for underpayment

Susan Oyatsi has been serving in an acting capacity for nearly 7 years

The Kenyan Judiciary

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has been ordered to pay Sh13.7 million to Susan Oyatsi for keeping her as acting Finance Director for nearly seven years.

Oyatsi had taken her employer to court, arguing that she deserved to be confirmed as the JSC Head of Finance after serving in an acting capacity since 2015.

She hired Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia who was able to obtain orders blocking the JSC from advertising the position.

The senior judicial officer was seeking damages amounting to Sh21.7 million as backdated compensation for being underpaid while serving as a director.

Ms Oyasti stated that she began her career with the Judiciary in June 2013 as the Regional Assistant Director in charge of Nairobi. In February 2015, she took over as director in an acting capacity.

Since November 2013, the Directorate of Finance, which had two directors, has been without a substantive office holder.

Oyatsi stated that she was among those who were first interviewed for the post in 2016, but the JSC stated that there was no successful applicant.

She then took over in an acting capacity from another individual for another five years.

The trained accountant had a second interview, however, Chief Registrar Anne Amadi informed her on September 28, 2019 that she had not been selected. She said no explanation was given.

Her lawyer told the court that Oyatsi did an excellent job during her service, garnering a recommendation from former Chief Justice David Maraga.

The JSC was defended by lawyer Charles Kanjama who argued that the commission could not afford to get the wrong candidate for the position.

He said that if the court ordered that she be confirmed as the substantive office holder, it would violate the principles of competitive recruitment.

Granting her the prayers sought would be contrary to constitutional dictates that recruitment and appointments should be done competitively,” Kanjama told the court.

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