Illegal Termination Of Appointment: Industrial Court Orders Arik Air To Pay $126,500 To Pilot Within 30 Days
An Abuja Division of National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) has declared the purported terminations of a pilot, Captain Ratovic Miroslav’s employment from Arik Air Limited March 31, 2017 as wrongful and in breach of the parties’ contract of employment.
Consequently, Honourable Justice Edith Agbakoba, who presided over the court has ordered Arik Air, to pay Captain Ratovic Miroslav the sum of $57,500 USD or its naira equivalent as payment of his outstanding salaries from September 2016 to March 2017 at the rate of $1 1,500 per month and the sum of $34,500 USD or its naira equivalent as three months’ salary in lieu of notice and an additional sum of $34,500 USD, as general damages for the wrongful employment termination within 30 days.
The claimant, Captain Ratovic Miroslav in his statement of claims before the court had submitted that his employment was terminated on the 31st day of March 2017, on the basis of his “service no longer required” without giving him any prior notice as contained in the letter of appointment, and the company was owing him arrears of salaries from the 1st day of September 2016 to the 31st day of January 2017.
The Arik Air in its defense, stated that the purported termination of Captain Ratovic’s employment was as a result of the takeover of the operations of the firm by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) which consequence necessitated a restructuring/reorganization of the operations of the firm.
While urging the court to dismiss the claims of Mr. Ratovic for being frivolous, the Arik Air Counsel contended that the contract of employment was between Arik International S.A (“AISA”) and not Arik Air Limited and Arik International S.A (“AISA”) is expected to bear the responsibility for the salaries of the claimant.
Counsel further submitted that the extant provisions of the AMCON (Amendment) Act effectively exculpate the firm in respect of the claimant’s claims.
In reply, the counsel to Mr. Ratovic maintained that the contract of employment was entered into by his client and the firm and not by the Arik International S A (AISA’) as claimed, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
The court in its considered judgment presided by Honourable Justice Edith Agbakoba, held that all the submissions of Arik Air that Mr. Ratovic is not their employee and the role of the Arik International S.A. got to no purpose as the court recognizes the concept of triangular employment.
“From the contents of this Letter of Release Agreement, the first respondent is the agent of the second respondent and the second respondent is a co-employer of the applicant. A cause of action has been disclosed against the second respondent by the applicant.”
Justice Agbakobahas declared the purported terminations of Captain Ratovic Miroslav’s employment from Arik Air Limited on 31st March 2017, as wrongful and in breach of the parties’ contract of employment.