A judge has dismissed a petition from the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) to lift orders that stopped a disciplinary process against the head of internal audit at the parastatal over claims that the auditor overstated work experience entry in her curriculum vitae.
Justice Jacob Gakeri dismissed a request from KPC to quash earlier court orders that stopped the firm from punishing General Manager Internal Audit, Catherine Kaloki, on allegations she overstated her work experience in her resume.
Ms Kaloki reckons that she had six-year work experience in senior audit roles ahead of applying for the KPC job.
But the firm, with the backing of the Auditor General, says she had a work experience of four-and-a-half years and four months in breach of the job requirement that required a five-year experience.
The suit emerges at a time a long line of executives has been ensnared in controversies over inaccurate CVs in disclosures have hastened the exit of some.
KPC wanted the Labour Relations Court to set aside the injunctive interim orders dated April 12, 2022, on grounds that they were irregularly obtained and that Ms Kaloki moved to court prematurely.
The State-owned energy company added that the court orders were oppressive and that they were obtained as a result of Ms Kaloki's non-disclosure that she deliberately misled KPC on her qualifications.
Justice Gakeri dismissed the request, saying Ms Kaloki had established a case for the court's intervention in the ongoing disciplinary process because of how the exercise was being undertaken by KPC.
For instance, the court stated that her request for documents relevant to her defence was rebuffed by the KPC managing director.
The court said Ms Kaloki was preparing a defence and was entitled to the documents whether the KPC boss considered them irrelevant or not.
"Allowing it (disciplinary process) to proceed to conclusion in its present structure is likely to occasion grave injustice to the petitioner and cannot withstand scrutiny.
The procedure violates the Constitution, Fair Administrative Action Act, Employment Act and the Respondent/Applicant’s Human Resource Manual," said the judge.
He also dismissed allegations that Ms Kaloki obtained the orders on account of non-disclosure of material facts related to the work experience.
Ms Kaloki was hired by the State agency in October 2021 and the disciplinary action started in March 2022, more than one year after her employment.
KPC kicked off the disciplinary process after establishing Ms Kaloki had not met the set work experience of five years as a principal internal auditor.
The agency said she overstated her work experience in the resume and during the interview for the job.
But Ms Kaloki said after applying for the position of General Manager of Internal Audit in September 2020 she disclosed all the information relating to her work experience.
She also presented all testimonials from former employers in the presence of officers from the Public Service Commission and did not receive any objection.
At the time she was an employee of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).
Ms Kaloki contended that she did not falsify any documents or make any false declarations and that she had the required experience for the job.
Ms Kaloki said she had experience of six years at the time. She had furnished KPC with all original certificates and testimonials, including a letter of promotion from Kebs that accounted for four years, four months experience as a principal.
She had also worked as Regional Manager at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) for one year and half, arguing that the postings earned her six years work experience.
She stated that KPC had subjected her to several incidents of harassment and mistreatment such as being publicly instructed to stop attending executive meetings.
Ms Kaloki also denied feigning sickness on April 6, 2022, with a view to procuring the court orders against the disciplinary process.
Her troubles started in early 2022 when KPC received the draft Management Letter from the Office of the Auditor General for audit for the year ended June 30, 2021.
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The letter queried the recruitment of the General Manager-Human Resource and General Manager-Internal Audit (Ms Kaloki) and marked their hiring as irregular and breached KPC's Human Resource Policies and Procedures.
In addition, the letter stated that Ms Kaloki had not attained the required five-year experience for the top management role and that the recruitment had not been sanctioned by the Treasury.
The letter jolted the KPC managing director Macharia Irungu into action.
In a letter dated March 2, 2022, the MD gave her 72 hours to explain in writing, by March 9, her CV and responsibilities in her previous employment.
She indicated that she worked for Kebs as Principal Internal Auditor 2008-2020, and National Cereals and Produce Board Regional Auditor 2007 – 2008.
The CV on the other hand stated that from 2008 to the time she was applying for the KPC job, she was Principal Internal Auditor at Kebs while between 2007–2008 she was Regional Auditor at the NCPB.