Update from Ushahidi board on inquiry into alleged sexual harassment complaint

Jul 17, 2017

Monday July 17th, 2017

The Ushahidi Board wishes to provide an update on the inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment complaint made against a senior employee.

On Sunday, July 16th, the Board received from its lawyers a legal opinion on the investigation of a sexual harassment complaint that was filed by one of our employees, who has since left the organization, against a senior employee. Following the review of the opinion and the completion of the Report, the Board has communicated its findings to all parties involved.

We expect to conclude our process in the coming days, in accordance with the Employment Act in Kenya and international employment law.  In the interim, the Board has placed the Respondent on suspension.

We wish to state that Ushahidi’s Board followed due process in accordance with the law, in respect of all parties’ legal rights as well as Ushahidi’s internal sexual harassment policies and procedures. This was in order to ensure that all parties were treated fairly, their rights protected, and confidentiality upheld throughout the inquiry.

Further, the inquiry was conducted professionally, impartially and in good faith in a bid to establish the facts and not to victimise any party or influence the outcome.

In addition, the resolution of the complaint was a legal process requiring consideration of the evidence, Ushahidi’s policies and procedures, and the applicable laws across two jurisdictions (the US and Kenya).

As such, the matter has required engagement and coordination of legal counsel for the organization, the Complainant, and the Respondent. The complexity of the issue and number of parties involved has led to a prolonged process.  In order to provide further clarity and in the interest of the transparency Ushahidi stands for, we are including a chronology of the matter.

We wish to reiterate that the Board supports a safe and respectful work environment. Ushahidi does not and will not condone any form of sexual harassment. 

Chronology of Events


What transpired.

January 19th 2017

Ushahidi hosts a company retreat in Aberdares Country Club

This day is later cited by the Complainant as the night the incident happened

May 4th 2017

Complainant lodges a sexual harassment complaint against the Respondent with the Board via email attaching a letter from her lawyer dated 4th May 2017

May 8th 2017

After initial consultation, the Board attentions the complaint to its lawyers and seeks legal advice on the matter  

The involvement of lawyers means the issue was no longer just internal matter of Ushahidi's company policies but one requiring careful consideration of applicable employment laws.

May 11th 2017

The Board’s legal counsel communicates with the Complainant’s counsel stating that it is dealing with the matter

May 13th 2017

The Board verbally notifies the Respondent of the complaint and indicates that it will send an official letter in 48 hours

May 15th 2017

The Board sends out a letter acknowledging the complaint to the Complainant and requests further information

The Board formally writes to the Respondent informing them of the complaint requiring a response within 3 days.

May 16th 2017

The Complainant acknowledges receipt of the notice and states that their counsel is unavailable and that the matter can only be actioned from their end the following week

May 18th 2017

The Respondent responds to the complaint and expresses his willingness to submit to the inquiry

May 25th 2017

The Board receives the details of the Respondent’s legal counsel

May 26th 2017

The Board’s counsel writes to the Respondent’s counsel stating the Board’s intention to proceed with the inquiry on 31st May 2017.

The intended meeting is similarly communicated to the Complainant’s lawyer

May 29th 2017

The Complainant’s counsel communicates her client’s unavailability stating that she has travelled out of the country and is set to return the following week

May 31st 2017

The Respondent’s counsel communicates stating that they are no longer handling the matter and new counsel has been engaged

New counsel communicates to the Board’s counsel and requests that the hearing be postponed given that he has just received instructions. The Board obliges

The Board’s Counsel communicates with the Complainant’s counsel informing them of the change in representation and requests that any evidence by the Complainant be submitted to the Board and the Respondent before the inquiry to enable adequate action and response.

A date for the inquiry is set for 16th June

June 5th 2017

The Complainant’s counsel writes to both the Board’s counsel and the Respondent’s counsel stating that their client will deliver the evidence to their offices.

June 10th 2017 & June 12th 2017

The requested evidence is delivered to the Board’s counsel’s office

The Respondent’s counsel confirms delivery of the evidence

June 15th 2017

The Respondent's counsel states that the copy of the evidence received is faulty and they cannot proceed without proper information. They also state that they are not available and had prior engagements.

The Complainant’s counsel asks for more time to supply proper evidence

The hearing scheduled for 16th June is consequently postponed

The three legal counsel agree to meet the following week to agree on the terms of engagement

June 20th 2017

All three legal counsel meet to agree on the terms of the inquiry

Terms are agreed upon and plausible dates are agreed upon for the inquiry subject to when evidence to be tendered by the Complainant is supplied to the parties

June 23rd 2017

The Board’s counsel receives a letter from the Complainant’s counsel rejecting some of the terms previously agreed upon.  

June 27th 2017

The Board’s counsel informs the Respondent’s counsel on the Complainant's rejection of the terms agreed

The Board through its counsel having given both parties a chance to agree on the terms of engagement of the Inquiry informs both parties of how it will conduct the proceedings

The Board gives possible dates for the Inquiry and asks both counsels to confirm availability.

June 28th 2017

The Complainant resigns from office  

June 29th 2017

The Respondent’s counsel indicates that they have been unwell and is recuperating. However, they will be available on 5th July 2017 for the hearing

July 3rd 2017

The Complainant’s counsel similarly confirms their attendance to the Inquiry

July 5th 2017

Inter party hearings are held

The Board gives 7 working days to communicate its decision

The Board communicates decision to send the Respondent on leave until a decision is made

July 16th 2017

Board receives legal opinion from its lawyers

Board reaches its decision regarding the case

July 17th 2017

Board communicates decision to Complainant and Respondent

Board places Respondent on suspension in order to complete due process in accordance with the Employment Act

Statement in pdf.