24/01/2018 09:21 SAST | Updated 24/01/2018 09:21 SAST

Woman Suing Lamberti 'Shocked' By His Appointment

Lamberti and his company are being sued for damages by a woman who says she was subjected to race and gender discrimination.

Mark Lamberti, chief executive officer of Imperial Holdings Ltd.
Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Lamberti, chief executive officer of Imperial Holdings Ltd.

A woman who is suing Associated Motors, a subsidiary of Imperial Holdings, of which newly appointed board Eskom board member Mark Lamberti is the CEO, says she was "shocked" to learn of his appointment, News24 reported.

Lamberti, reportedly the founder of Massmart Holdings, is the CEO of Imperial Holdings and has served as a nonexecutive director at Business Leadership South Africa. He was recently appointed to the new board of Eskom along with new chairperson Jabu Mabuza and others.

Adila Chowman, a former employee at Associated Motor Holdings, reportedly went to court after she was fired last year, seeking R18.3-million in damages from Lamberti.

She alleged that she was promised a position by Lamberti in 2014, but was then subjected to a disciplinary hearing and then dismissed because of her gender and race. She reportedly said Lamberti made "unprofessional" comments about her, calling her a "female, employment equity candidate and technically competent" but said she needed three to four years to develop her skills.

Chowan told News24 she was "shocked" that Lamberti was appointed.

"I was shocked to see that someone hadn't done their research and reference checks on Mr Lamberti because he has a cloud hanging over him," Chowan told News24.

A report by Business Day in August 2017 says that Chowan is suing Associated Motors, an Imperial subsidiary, for R23-million.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, SC, representing Chowan, reportedly told the court that Chowan was victimised after submitting a letter of complaint to the chairperson of the board, alleging that her rights were violated by company executives.

All4Women quoted Mpofu as saying: "Those promises were broken and in the process of breaking them, utterances were made to the effect that she was a black woman, employment equity candidate, and therefore, she can leave if she likes. She is technically competent, but she is not going to get the job."

According to Business Day, the board chairperson at the time, Thulani Gcabashe, told the court that, after investigating her claims, the board concluded that she should be disciplined for not following the company's grievance complaints procedure.

Adv Nazeer Cassim, SC, for the company and Lamberti, reportedly said the law allowed for a month's compensation for Chowan, at best.