Crime & Courts

[UPDATED] Ex-HR head wins RM191,530 compensation for forced resignation by company GM, says court


KUALA LUMPUR: In a significant ruling, the Industrial Court has ordered Petaling Jaya Dairy Sdn Bhd, a French-owned food products supplier, to compensate its former human resource head, Nizatul Asmar Chek Umar, with RM191,530.50. 

The court found that Nizatul was wrongfully forced to resign by the company's former general manager, Henry Ong Ewe Teow.

During a two-day trial in January, it was revealed that Nizatul's relationship with Ong deteriorated after she addressed employees' grievances regarding his behaviour. 

Despite her efforts to rectify the situation, including raising concerns about Ong's temper and unreasonable treatment of employees, the company took no action.

Ong demanded Nizatul's resignation on Nov 10, 2022, threatening her replacement if she refused. 

Despite her resignation being coerced, the company accepted it without addressing her complaint.

Court Chairman D. Paramalingam criticised the company for not calling Ong as a witness, highlighting his absence and employment termination as suspicious. 

"This Court finds that the claimant's resignation was not made voluntarily, but was forced upon her by Ong, who conveniently refused to attend court despite a subpoena being issued against him. 

"The claimant's testimony pertaining to Ong's unreasonable behaviour and actions that led to her being forced to resign from her employment with the company remains unchallenged. 

"Under such circumstances, this court finds that the claimant's termination from her employment in the company was done without just cause and excuse," said the judge.

In his judgment dated May 29, he ruled that the claimant, Nizatul, was not allowed to consider her options before being forced to resign from her position in December 2022. 

While the court dismissed Nizatul's request for reinstatement, it awarded her 14 months' back wages and one month's compensation in lieu of reinstatement, totaling RM241,570. This amount was adjusted considering post-dismissal earnings and salary received in lieu of notice.

"In the event the claimant is reinstated to her former position, this would undoubtedly create a domino effect whereby the new staff would, most likely than not, be terminated or moved on from her position as the head of human resource. 

"If the court were to order a reinstatement of the claimant, it would undoubtedly create an industrial disharmony in the company," he said.

The court awarded Nizatul, who had joined the company in April 2021 with a monthly salary of RM17,255, 14 months' back wages and one month's compensation in lieu of reinstatement, totaling RM241,570. 

This amount was reduced by 10 per cent due to post-dismissal earnings and by RM43,137 already received as salary in lieu of notice.

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