A Kenyan court has set aside a February 2024 interim order that forced B2B e-commerce startup Wasoko to keep nine employees on its payroll despite laying them off in December 2023. The court said the employees were “undeserving” of the order after they withheld crucial information.

Despite reinstating the employees, they failed to show up for work, Wasoko’s lawyers argued. One of the claimants was still employed by Wasoko at the time of the order and participated in redundancy negotiations. The court agreed with Wasoko’s argument that keeping them on payroll would amount to “unjust enrichment.” 

“Before me are claimants who have since obtaining the orders declined to present themselves to work and in the case of one, taken steps to accede to the issue that brought them to court,” the court held in its June 11, 2024 decision.

The employees disagreed with the ruling, and one person with direct knowledge of the matter claimed Wasoko allowed them to work from home occasionally. The same person added that they had limited access to work tools, and claimed a hostile work environment after they sued made working from the office untenable.

As a result of the ruling, the parties to the lawsuit will now prepare for a pre-trial hearing on the wrongful termination suit brought by the nine ex-employees.

Wasoko maintains it followed due process in the layoffs, and that the initial redundancy notices from December 2023 were valid. It also issued a new notice after the February interim order. 

In April 2024, the ex-employees received and kept their redundancy payments. However, the ex-employees claimed that Wasoko erroneously released the payments while the case was ongoing.

While the case continues, Wasoko’s celebrated merger with Egypt’s MaxAB, expected to be concluded by April 2024 remains uncompleted, with TechCrunch citing “extended due diligence” as the cause of delay.

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