The International School of Kenya Limited has been sued by a former teacher over alleged pay discrimination practices in which Kenyan tutors are paid less than their foreign peers.
Katherine Ama Musee took the matter to the Employment and Labour Relations Court which was heard by Justice Jacob Gakeri seeking reparations of Sh9.8 million accruing from 2014 to 2019.
The school objected to the application, saying the court lacked jurisdiction and that the matter was time-barred.
The judge ruled on September 19 that the court has jurisdiction, paving the way for the legal battle to proceed.
“For the foregoing reasons, it is the finding of the court that the court has jurisdiction to hear and determine the instant suit, the ouster clauses in the contract of employment notwithstanding,” Justice Makeri said.
“Flowing directly from the foregoing analysis, it is clear that the Respondent’s Notice of Preliminary Objection dated 12th May, 2023 is for dismissal and it is accordingly dismissed.”
The applicant told the court that expatriate teachers were paid higher salaries and had more benefits than locals.
She said the prayers sought are declaratory and compensatory in nature and include the difference between the salary paid by the school and the salary the institution ought to have paid.
She said that foreign teachers were, for instance, paid house allowances while the same benefit was not extended to Kenyan tutors.
In its response, the school said that the application was too late. It also told the court that the employment contracts in question were governed by US laws and any disputes with regard to benefits are subject to the jurisdiction of American courts.
The judge said the application was in order and the issues in dispute would be determined based on merit.
“The foregoing view is informed by the reality that the suit herein was filed on 4th February, 2020 and the Claimant retired on 7th June, 2019 and assuming that the claims for house allowance and underpayment were in the nature of “continuing injury” the court has the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit,” the judge said.
“Even assuming they were not, the court would still have jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit as it was filed within 3 years prescribed by Section 90 of the Employment Act, 2007.
ISK is one of the top private schools in the country.
It charges annual tuition fees of between $18,266 (Sh2.6 million) and $35,016 (Sh5.1 million) depending on the learner’s grade.