Thinley Namgay 

Thimphu dzongkhag court dismissed a case filed by the former chief executive officer (CEO) of State Trading Corporation of Bhutan Limited (STCBL) against the company’s board of directors.

The former CEO, Kuenga Namgay, took the board of directors to court last year for compelling him to resign in May last year after a female employee filed complaints against him for sexual harassment.

The former CEO accused the board of directors of not following due process in terminating him, and of breaching the contractual agreement.

According to the judgement of dismissal rendered last week, the former CEO’s legal representative submitted to the court that the board must reinstate the CEO, as he was not found guilty of sexual harassment in a court of law.

“He contended that STCBL’s board can’t decide on the case until he is found guilty by the court, and he should be given his basic salary and other benefits based on the contract agreement until his term ends,” the judgment stated. “The legal representative also mentioned that sexual harassment is a criminal offence, but the board terminated the CEO on the grounds of administrative wrongdoing.”

STCBL submitted to the court that the CEO was asked to resign after a female employee from the Phuentsholing regional office filed a written complaint to the STCBL management council against him for sexual harassment.

“An investigative team was formed and during the investigation, two other female employees also reported the CEO for sexually harassing them. It was also found that the CEO had passed unwelcome comments, remarks, and messages many times to the victims. He even called the victims to his office and harassed them,” the management submitted. “The CEO’s acts breached the company’s rules and regulations framed in 2018. His termination was necessary for the safety of employees and to create a good working environment.”

STCBL management also claimed that the CEO’s submissions were baseless, as he had taken the benefits and apologised to the employees for his conduct.

The court ruled that the board’s decision was based on the company’s rules and the Labour Act. It also cancelled the restraining order it issued to STCBL last year after the CEO appealed to the High Court to issue one to delay the appointment of a new CEO.