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High court tells Safaricom to compensate visually impaired man

High court orders Safaricom to compensate visually impaired man over failure to employ him.

Kenya’s leading telecommunications company, Safaricom, was fined by a high court to compensate a blind man with KSH 6 million (approximately $56,000) over breach of employment rights.

Wilson Macharia, a visually impaired man, was given the sum after he sued Safaricom because the telecommunications giant refused to hire him after he underwent all the recruitment processes successfully, thus violating his dignity and employment rights.

He stated that he applied for a customer experience executive position in August 2016 after seeing a job advertisement from Safaricom, saying that they were recruiting qualified personnel, race, disability, religion, age, colour or tribal origin notwithstanding. He was selected for the role and took the oral interview and medical tests, after which he was invited to sign the employment contract in July 2017. However, he was not given the job.

To justify their actions, Safaricom stated that their actions were not discriminatory and that the invite to Mr Macharia was false. They also said that they lacked the particular software and technology system that would have helped him carry out his duties in his state.

The Judge in charge of the case, Justice James Makau, in favour of the plaintiff’s claim, stated that Safaricom denied him an opportunity to work despite making him go through the entire process, thus neglecting his rights and failing to treat his dignity.

“I find that the respondent’s (Safaricom) excuse to be an afterthought that was introduced late to the detriment of the petitioner. The respondent knew right from the beginning that the petitioner’s work called for software, yet they took him through all recruitment steps,” Justice James Makau

A report by the World Bank has it that over 15% (1 billion people) of the world’s population live with disabilities, whereby the majority are most likely to experience workplace discrimination and other adverse societal exclusions.

However, specific prominent organizations (such as the World Bank, the United Nations, UNICEF, USAID, CRPD) promote disability-inclusive developments through proper education, employment, skills developments, training, e.t.c.

Kenya in focus

GDP: $98.843 billion in 2020 compared to  $95.503 billion in 2019

Population: 53,771,300 in 2020 compared to  52,573,973 in 2019

GDP per capita: $1,838 in 2020 compared to $1,816 in 2019