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25.11.2009 General News

Former employee drags Nestle to court

By Daily Graphic
Former employee drags Nestle to court
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The former Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager of Nestle Central and West Africa has dragged his employers to the Industrial and Labour Division of the High Court for wrongfully terminating his employment.

Mr Philip Anane is also accusing the Regional/Market Head under the Nestle Performance Evaluation who terminated his appointment of "racism and intolerance" and in "contravention of Nestle's own Human Resource Policy and Corporate Business Principles".

He is, therefore, seeking general and special damages for the wrongful and unfair termination of his contract, as well as “consequential losses arising, including injury to reputation, loss of expectation and diminution of future prospects of employment".

However, Nestle Central and West Africa Limited has denied any wrongdoing, accused the plaintiff of recurrent under-performance and has since filed a counter motion praying the court to order the plaintiff to vacate the company's rented property, pay accumulated rent on the property, as well as hand over the company's vehicle.

The court, which was expected to deliver its ruling on whether or not to order the plaintiff to vacate the defendant's premises Monday, has deferred ruling to January 20, 2010.

In the substantive suit, Mr Anane is praying the court to order the defendant to pay him lump compensation, remuneration for each year of service, payment in lieu of notice, settlement of all outstanding benefits, bonuses, allowances, leave of vacation, accrued management bonus scheme, among others.

The plaintiff is also praying the court to order the defendant to pay his benefits at the prevailing commercial bank rate, as well as costs and other reliefs the court might deem fit.

A statement of claim accompanying the writ of summons filed on behalf of the plaintiff by his lawyer, Mr Peter Zwennes, stated, among others, that Mr Anane, who is a Swiss/Ghanaian, was employed by the defendant on April I, 2007 as an expatriate.

It said prior to his employment, Mr Anane had worked with reputable companies in Switzerland and during his tenure with the defendant company, he performed his duties with diligence and dedication, adding that in the first year of service the then Regional/Market Head under the Nestle Performance Evaluation, Mr Friedrich Mahler, assessed Anane's performance as "Masters", translating into "very satisfactory performance".

According to the statement of claim, he never received any query between February 2008, when Mr Etienne Benet took over from Mr Mahler, and March 16, 2009 being the date his contract was terminated.

The plaintiff further stated that the termination of his appointment was wrongful, arbitrary, unfair and without any regard for due process, adding that the allegations of recurrent under-performance were unjustified and without any basis.

"Plaintiff further avers that defendant's wrongful decision to terminate his contract of employment and the reasons assigned for the said termination have not only damaged and/or reduced his prospects of any future employment but also caused him great embarrassment, mental distress and injury to his reputation," the statement of claim pointed out.

However, Nestle has denied the plaintiff's assertion in its statement of defence and pointed that it was untrue that Mr Mahler had assessed Mr Anane's performance and classified it as "Masters".

"The defendant avers that in the year 2008, the defendant noticed that the plaintiffs performance was falling below expectation and, as a result, Etienne Benet, the Head of Region of the defendant company, discussed it with the plaintiff," adding that "the plaintiff's abysmal performance throughout 2008 is reflected in the Progress and Development Guide of the plaintiff covering the period January to December 2008".

Nestle further denied the plaintiff's assertion of racism against Mr. Benet, challenged" him to prove it and justified the termination of the plaintiff's contract.

The company further argued that the plaintiff had no cause of action against it and was not entitled to any of the reliefs being sought.

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