Truckie's dismissal justified after threats to co-worker, ERA rules

By Hana Garrett-Walker

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A truck driver was justifiably dismissed after threatening to cut off his colleagues tongue and kill his dogs after he believed he had informed on him for allegedly drinking on the job, the Employment Relations authority has found.

Tony Looker was working as a truck driver for Walter and Sons when his colleague went to the company and said Mr Looker was drinking alcohol on the job.

Walter and Sons issued a written statement to Mr Looker to clarify that drinking alcohol on the job was unacceptable.

A few weeks later, Mr Looker went to the man who told management about the alcohol drinking, Alex Pobar, and threatened him.

"He then came over and said that he had a mate of his that was coming over to my house to cut out my tongue and kill my dogs because that is what he does to narks," Mr Pobar said.

Mr Looker then shoulder-barged Mr Pobar as he walked to the store office, before repeating his threat.

Walter and Sons convened a disciplinary meeting later that day where Mr Looker denied having spoken to Mr Pobar at all during the day,

Walter and Sons did not believe him, and dismissed him.

Mr Looker took his dismissal to the ERA and said his employer should have gone through a formal disciplinary process, which, he claimed, they had not.

However, ERA member James Crichton said Mr Looker overlooked that fact that an employer could be dismissed if it appeared to be serious misconduct.

"Given the nature and extent of the allegations against Mr Looker, it is difficult to agree with him that the employer adopted the wrong process..."

Mr Looker also said Mr Pobar was biased against him because he knew things about Mr Pobar's private life, but the ERA found he did not take the opportunity to adequately defend himself at the disciplinary meeting, rather simply denied any wrongdoing.

"The short point is that by failing to respond openly and constructively to the employer during the investigatory process that led to his dismissal, Mr Looker did himself no service..."

On the basis of the evidence before them at the time, Walter and Sons' decision to dismiss Mr Looker was a justified one.

- APNZ

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