Does acquittal from criminal charges give an ex-employee rig

An Expert's View about Law and Compliance in Ethiopia

Posted on: 24 Mar 2012

The mere fact that a certain employee was acquitted from a criminal charge brought against him in relation to his employment relation doesn’t give the employee the right to demand to return to work with payment of compensation.
The basic reason behind this is that the contents and types of charge brought for criminal cases and labor cases are completely different, plus the ways that evidences are evaluated are also different.
A decision passed on November 04, 2001 E.C. the Cassation bench asserts the above argument. The suit was between the applicants A.A. Megebe Adarshe Administration and defendant W/ro Yewbdar Tilahun. While working for the applicant, due to a criminal charge brought on her by the public prosecutor, the employment contract had terminated. But after the defendant was acquitted of the charges, she returned to her work place but was transferred to another division. The claim was to get an order from the court to return to her to her original position.
The applicant, on its statement of defense stated that the reason for discharging the defendant in the first place was due to the fact that she had taken some Money from the company. When confronted, she agreed to bring some of it back but refused to return the rest. The applicant also stated that the reason for transfer was due to the act of the defendant.
The court that first entertained the case, the Federal First Instance Court, looked at the issue at hand and stated that the applicants move should be considered as a modification of the employment contract but since the applicant’s justification doesn’t qualify as a valid ground for modification of the contract the court decided the act of the applicant was unlawful. The High Court upon appeal also enforced the lower court’s decision.
The Cassation bench after through analayzation came to find out the defendant worked as a cashier, the fact that she took 4,219.00 and agreed to return 1,950.00 only, that she was suspended from work and the fact that the prosecutor has brought a charge against her are proven facts.
But as it is known the evaluation of evidences for criminal cases is of “beyond reasonable doubt” and that of labor suits are more of disciplinary measures hence have mild measuring standards. What can be concluded from this is that a person acquitted from criminal charges has a wide chance of being guilty under the labor law.
When we come to the issue at hand it cannot be concluded that the transfer was not in accordance with the law. The reason the transfer had to be made was due to the fact that the nature of the work of the defendant prior to the transfer involved handing money and since the defendant did take money it’s only natural that the applicant would transfer the employee.
Generally, the lower courts came to the decision to pronounce a judgment that the act of the applicant was illegal without duly considering the general spirit of the law. Hence, the bench rejected the decisions of lower courts.
Thus it can be concluded that acquittal from criminal charges doesn’t give an employee the right to return to his place of work.


Posted: 24 March 2012

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