A High Court in Kenya has ordered Safaricom to pay a blind man KSh6 million ($56,000) for failing to hire him after he had gone through the entire recruitment process.

Wilson Macharia sued the network operator to seek compensation because his rights were violated, BusinessDaily reported. He told Justice James Makau that Safaricom declined to employ him as a customer care executive on grounds that it did not have specialised software to help him with his work.

Macharia said he responded to an advert by Safaricom in August 2016 for a customer experience executive position, which invited qualified Kenyans irrespective of “race, colour, religion, gender, tribal origin, disability or age”.

Along with other persons living with disabilities, Macharia was shortlisted for the job, went through the oral interview and medical test, after which he was invited to sign the contract in July 2017. However, Safaricom said the invite was erroneous. 

In its defense, the telecoms firm denied discriminating against the plaintiff and argued that it allowed Macharia to be interviewed for the job but that it lacked specialised software that would enable him to work.

The judge ruled that the company violated Macharia’s rights and failed to treat him with dignity as it should have informed him earlier that the software was unavailable instead of making him go through the recruitment process only to later claim the letter was sent erroneously. 

“I find that the Respondent’s excuse to be an afterthought that was introduced late to the detriment of the Petitioner. The Respondent knew right from the beginning that the Petitioner’s work called for software, yet they took him through all recruitment steps,” Justice Makau ruled.

There’s a long history of discrimination and exclusion of persons with disabilities around the world. 

The United Nations estimates that there are over 650 million people around the world who live with disabilities; 98% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school and the literacy rate for adults with disabilities is as low as 3%. 

In addition, millions of people with disabilities want to get jobs but can’t get hired. Even in developed economies, they struggle to find employment.

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Michael Ajifowoke Author

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