M’sian Woman Awarded RM192K After Volatile Boss Forced Her To Resign

He threatened no payment, forcing her to resign and resubmit multiple times.
The Industrial Court has ruled in favour of Nizatul Asmar Che Umar, the former head of human resources at Petaling Jaya Dairy Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of French dairy giant BSA International.

She has been awarded RM191,530.50 in compensation after being compelled to resign by the company’s then-general manager, Henry Ong.

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Given no choice: Resign or get sacked

Boss pointing blame
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Court chairman D Paramalingam, in the award dated May 29, stated that Nizatul was not given the chance to consider her decision to leave the company.

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Instead, she faced an ultimatum from Ong: resign or be dismissed without receiving her lawful salary. This decision followed a two-day trial in January, where it was revealed that the claimant’s relationship with Ong had deteriorated significantly, reported FMT,

Employee complaints ignored by management

Packing stuff after resignation
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Nizatul reported that her relationship with Ong soured after she relayed employee grievances regarding his volatile behaviour.

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She highlighted an increase in employee resignations and felt compelled to address the issue to maintain industrial harmony.

“His volatile temper and unreasonable treatment of employees did not adhere to good industrial relations practices,” Paramalingam noted in his 40-page award.

Ong’s reaction to these issues was consistently negative, becoming upset, confrontational, and vindictive towards Nizatul, including shouting at her and responding curtly and rudely during meetings.

Specific instances of inhumane treatment: Denies leave for terminally ill father

Sick leave application denied
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The court heard specific instances of Ong’s inhumane treatment of employees.

For example, when David Loh, the company’s business development manager, requested leave to care for his terminally ill father, Ong denied the request and insisted Loh continue working until his last day.

“Ong stipulated that Loh continue reporting to work until his last day of employment. Loh’s father passed away, but Ong insisted that (he) continue his handover work.”

Despite Nizatul’s attempts to manage the situation compassionately, Ong accused her of leniency and poor management.

Resigning under pressure

Resignation box
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On November 10, 2022, Ong demanded that Nizatul resign immediately. Despite her protests, Ong insisted she work until mid-December, offering to pay her until February 10, 2023, including her 13th-month salary.

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He threatened that if she disagreed, she would be replaced without any payments. Nizatul reluctantly resigned but was asked to resubmit her resignation multiple times to accommodate Ong’s preferences for her departure.

Paramalingam concluded that Ong was in full control of Nizatul’s resignation process, evident from the modifications he made to her resignation letters.

Nizatul’s subsequent complaint to the company about being forced to resign was ignored, indicating that both the company and Ong were complicit in her forced resignation.

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Lack of transparency from the company

The court criticized the company for not calling Ong as a witness, especially after his mysterious termination on July 4, 2023.

The company’s witness, Cheah Siow Chuan, who replaced Nizatul, provided insufficient evidence as she lacked personal knowledge of the incidents in question. The court suggested that the company intentionally kept Ong from testifying to protect their case.

Breakdown of the compensation

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Nizatul, who started with the company in April 2021 and earned RM17,255 monthly, was awarded the following:

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  • 14 months’ back wages
  • One month’s compensation in lieu of reinstatement
  • Total compensation: RM241,570
    • Reduced by 10% for post-dismissal earnings
    • Further reduced by RM43,137 (salary in lieu of notice)

Legal representation for the claimant was provided by Peter Chanther Jayaraja, while Alwin Rajasurya and Kelly Yong Shu Xhuang represented the company.

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