Disabled worker fired, Bunnings Warehouse respond

By Aimee Shaw

A intellectually disabled Bunnings employee was reportedly sacked for theft. Photo / File
A intellectually disabled Bunnings employee was reportedly sacked for theft. Photo / File

An intellectually disabled man has been fired from his job as a trolley chaser at Bunnings Warehouse in Shirley, Christchurch.

Employed by Bunnings for seven years, 45 year-old Seaton Clark was dismissed for reportedly taking a drink bottle from a locker room. However, Bunnings Warehouse general manager Jacquie Coombes said there were more details surrounding the case which she was unwilling to disclose.

Listen to Jacquie Coombes respond to disabled employee's dismissal:

Coombes told Newstalk ZB the decision to dismiss Clark was not taken lightly.

"Whenever a situation like this happens or there's an incident in one of our stores, we do investigate everything thoroughly before we make a decision," she said.

"These decisions aren't taken lightly - sometimes they take days or weeks for the investigation and the care of Seaton and which ever team member happened to be involved in the situation is top of mind all the time - it's just not great for anyone."

She said there was more detail that led to the decision.

"There's [more] details and facts behind it but I'm just not able and I'm not willing to talk about individual situations, but certainly all the facts aren't listed in the [news] stories, of course not," she said.

"There's certainly more detail that led to the decision."

Coombes said she understood how the situation appeared and how people were feeling about Clark's dismissal.

"Unfortunately when incidents happen we have to sometimes have to make tough decisions, and sad decisions as well," she said.

Following an investigation and review of facts, dismissal was regarded as the only course of action that could be taken, Coombes said.

"Seaton's been a team member for over seven years for us and a great team member."

Unfortunately when incidents happen we have to sometimes have to make tough decisions, and sad decisions as well.

Clark's support worker and family claim the dismissal is unfair considering his disability and good work ethic. He previously worked six hours per day managing trolleys for the store.

This is not the first staff employment issue Bunnings has had this year.

In March, staff at a Dunedin store caused a stir when management tried to give the store defibrillator to a community group. Staff had raised money to buy the defibrillator three years earlier after an employee died of a heart attack. Despite initially opposing the possession of a defibrillator on site, the company later backed down.

The hardware retailer also suspended hundreds of workers for removing their signature aprons in a protest regarding rostering issues.

Newstalk ZB gave Bunnings Warehouse the opportunity to release more details.

- NZ Herald

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