Fired Teacher wins case over obscene photos

A file image of a judge's gavel. [PHOTO | COURTESY]

A teacher at the Nairobi-based Riara Group of Schools has won in court against the private school, which sacked him for sending pornographic emails to top staff members.

The teacher Apollo Amanya was deemed to have been unfairly terminated by the Employment and Labour Relations court, despite the fact that he was guilty of disseminating offensive photographs.

The art teacher was hired on June 10, 2019, and his employment lasted until March 18, 2021, when his contract was terminated for violating the school’s e-learning policy by exchanging nude photographs.

“To put it mildly, the photographs that were disseminated were shocking. The idea of such materials getting into the hands of the institution’s young students makes the court cringe. It is astounding that a teacher would think it acceptable to distribute such materials, especially in a learning institution, remarked Justice Bernard Manani.

“Any right-thinking member of society, including the court, cannot condone such behavior. However, the respondent was required to provide the petitioner a fair hearing before considering the petitioner’s fate, he said.

The judge stated that despite the school having a legitimate justification for terminating Mr. Amanya’s employment contract, the school was unable to persuade the court that it followed the rules of due process in doing so.

He gave the instructor Sh110,000 as compensation for wrongful termination “on account of failure to afford him a fair hearing notwithstanding his apparent infractions,” which is the equal of his salary for two months.

The alleged uninvited distribution of pornographic materials within the school was the reason Mr. Amanya was fired. The material was sent twice to the school staff community’s official email addresses.

The teacher delivered unsolicited pornographic images to a number of senior staff members on February 24 and 25, 2021, according to the school’s testimony before the court.

His email address supplied the obscene content. The school said that Mr. Amanya was aware of its e-learning policies and that disseminating pornographic material was against them.

When questioned about it, the teacher admitted that his email had been hacked and that he had promptly reported the intrusion to the police.

However, despite updating the password, on February 26, 2021, a new set of photos were distributed using the same email address.

According to Mr. Amanya, the obscene photographs were sent from the ICT lab via his email account.

He claimed to have been in class at the time, thus someone else must have been responsible for the photographs’ distribution.

The instructor told the court that he discovered his account was not secured when he visited the school’s ICT lab with the deputy head teacher.

This suggested that the password for the account was inactive.

In contrast to a scenario where a hacker gained access to a user’s account despite a password, Justice Manani noted that in this case—and as the teacher admitted—the account was merely unsecured.

On March 19, 2021, Mr. AManya reported the infiltration into his account, one day after he had undergone the school’s disciplinary actions and been fired.

Mr. Amanya stated that senior staff members at the institution harassed him unnecessarily while he was working there.

For instance, he said that the management routinely ordered him and other employees to repeat tasks.

Additionally, he said that the school’s deputy head teacher had spoken disparagingly about him, had secretly recorded their discussion, and had made him work extra hours.

The claims were refuted by the school. According to the report, Mr. Amanya’s aberrant behavior and poor performance on his core duties were noticed by the school’s administration.

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