Sacked telco worker cross-examines former manager

A former Telecom employee says he was unfairly dismissed after taking a holiday to Fiji. Photo / Greg Bowker
A former Telecom employee says he was unfairly dismissed after taking a holiday to Fiji. Photo / Greg Bowker

A former Telecom employee has cross-examined his former manager over an unfair dismissal dispute at the Employment Court in Auckland today.

Madhukar Shyam Narayan was laid off from his job as a broadband helpdesk specialist in March 2012, after missing three days of work and producing a questionable Fijian medical certificate.

The Employment Relations Authority last year found in Telecom's favour, satisfied the company "conducted a fair and reasonable investigation before dismissing Mr Narayan", and that he "was justifiably dismissed".

He is now appealing the authority's decision at the Employment Court whilst representing himself.

Mr Narayan's former manager Ricky Henry today told the court he approached Mr Narayan after receiving the medical certificate and told him it looked odd.

"He didn't say anything he just looked at me confusedly.

"It was the letterhead, usually I'd see the doctor's name and a signature [but they weren't there]."

In court, Mr Narayan then asked Mr Henry if from what he had seen of other medical certificates, his had looked legitimate.

After hesitating, Mr Henry agreed it did.

However, concerns were raised with the medical certificate's lack of a letterhead or officiating stamp, Mr Henry said.

A HR consultant who was working at Telecom at the time, Tania Breen, told the court that after consulting the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, which had apparently issued the certificate, it was revealed the reference number on the document didn't match the hospital's records.

Their records showed the certificate was issued by a "different doctor, to a different patient, on a different date," Ms Breen said.

Mr Narayan was born and raised in Fiji and had travelled home in December 2011 for what he said was a three-week holiday. Though he flew on a one-way ticket, he always intended to adhere to his approved leave break and return to work in Auckland by December 27, he said yesterday.

He had originally applied for leave to return on January 3, but that period had been declined.

On December 27, he emailed Telecom saying he seemed "to have caught a bad virus" and wouldn't be in to work. He didn't mention that he was still in Fiji.

On December 29 he emailed again, advising he was still sick and was seeking a second medical opinion. That night he visited a doctor at a Suva hospital.

The hearing continues.

- APNZ

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