Man fired over F word wins job back

An administrator at the University of Auckland who was sacked for using the F word has won his job back.

William Marks lost his job as a facilities administrator after he filled out a building maintenance report with a word in each column. When the first letters of each word were read together they spelt "f*** you".

Mr Marks took his case to the Employment Relations Authority.

The authority's decision, released to media yesterday, found that Mr Marks should be given his job back.

At the hearing last month, Mr Marks told the authority he had been stressed after covering for a colleague who was away. He described his actions as a "flash of anger".

Mr Marks was called into his manager's office and given a letter outlining allegations against him - that his maintenance report "appears to purposefully spell out a phrase which is considered objectionable".

The university found the phrase contravened its IT policy.

At a second meeting, attended by a human resources manager and two of Mr Marks' bosses, it was decided he would be stood down on full pay while an investigation took place.

Two days later Mr Marks admitted responsibility, apologised and said it would never happen again.

Six days later he was shown an email from a colleague who alleged that he had a "general negative and offensive attitude".

Mr Marks, who had not seen the email before, called it an ambush. He was given another letter to which he replied, apologising and promising to go to an anger management course.

The next letter Mr Marks received told him he had been sacked. His manager was concerned Mr Marks had not entered "full comments" in the maintenance report.

But authority member Eleanor Robinson found that a reasonable employer would have looked at Mr Marks' report in the context of his previous employment history and would have looked at the possibility of demotion or redeployment.

"I find that there is no evidence that any of these alternatives to dismissal were seriously considered."

University spokesman Bill Williams declined to comment.

- Staff reporter

- NZ Herald

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