A church minister who was fired for allegedly engaging in premarital sex is having the last laugh after the Labour Court ruled in her favour on Monday.
The 30-year-old female pastor, whose identity has been concealed, had sued registered trustees of the Methodist Church of Kenya claiming she was sacked because she got pregnant outside marriage.
She was an evangelist under Kaaga synod from October 2016 till November 22, 2017. The pastor was serving two churches; Nyeri Methodist and Suguroi-Ngobit church, earning a monthly salary of Sh19,000.
According to a letter dated November 8, last year, which was filed in court, the minister was sacked for failure to “adhere to the normal standards of the church as an evangelist”.
“As noted, you did a church wedding on May 27, 2017, and you gave birth in October the same year. This is five months instead of the expected nine,” the letter signed by the Reverend Wilson Njagi for the Synod Bishop read in part.
The church further claimed that after investigations it was noted the pregnancy had gone full cycle, indicating the claimant was involved in sex before marriage.
“This was against the Church, which you were supposed to uphold and lead as an example for those who you were preaching to,” added the letter.
But the minister did not take this lying down and sought justice arguing that the conduct of the church in terminating her services amounted to discrimination on the basis of her pregnancy and gender.
She said according to the church regulations, the pregnancy of single female employees should not lead to a dismissal.
The pastor wanted a compensation Sh409,000 for unfair termination, unpaid house allowances, salary in lieu of notice, three months of unpaid maternity leave, 21 days annual leave, unpaid salary for November 2017 and unremitted NSSF dues for 15 months.
The church failed to enter appearance in the case despite service, forcing the court to hear the pastor’s claims as undefended.
Justice Nzioki wa Makau on Monday awarded the pastor Sh214,000 after finding that her dismissal was unlawful and discriminative.
The court noted the claimant had not denied engaging in premarital sex, nor disputed the pregnancy and birth of her first born child in October last year. It found that she was not afforded the safeguard that the canons of the church made available for those who may “slip and fall” like she did.
In his decree, the Judge found that the non-payment of house allowance was not erroneous since the church had provided her with a house.
She also failed to prove that the NSSF deductions were unpaid.
Justice Makau directed the church to pay her Sh19,000 as compensation for 21 days’ annual leave, Sh57,000 for three months of unpaid maternity leave, Sh114,000 as compensation for the unfair termination of employment, Sh5,066 for unpaid salary for eight days in November and Sh19,000 for one month salary in lieu of notice.