Man who drank wine before employment meeting fails to get job back

By Kieran Campbell

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A man who drank three bottles of wine before a meeting to discuss his employment future has lost a bid to win his job back.

Thomas Jude Waigth Chamberlain is still pursuing his unfair dismissal case after he was sacked by IT company Neocom but his attempt for interim reinstatement has been rejected by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Mr Chamberlain was "angry and confrontational" during the meeting about his job future and he "used offensive language and threatened to harm Neocom" and the director Paul Hughes.

The ERA heard Mr Chamberlain had become anxious about whether he had a future with Neocom when it started negotiations with a prospective buyer in September.

His stress led to him taking a day off on October 9 and he called the meeting with Mr Hughes that day.

Mr Chamberlain said he drank "at least" three bottles of wine before the meeting, during which he made derogatory statements about Mr Hughes and the wife of a prospective purchaser who was also present.

That evening, Mr Chamberlain went onto Neocom's website host, which held confidential information and of which he was only two employees to have administrator access.

He claimed he had only gone onto the host site to collect information about his work performance to persuade any prospective purchaser of Neocom of his value or to provide information to any future employer if he was made redundant.

However, in the process, Mr Chamberlain cut off access to the site for the second administrator and Mr Hughes.

He claimed it was an accident and said he discovered the mistake the next morning and made arrangements to rectify it.

Mr Chamberlain was summarily dismissed on October 18 for serious misconduct and his outstanding salary and holiday entitlements were paid out.

Neocom said Mr Chamberlain's behaviour, both during the meeting and with the website, was "reprehensible and it no longer has trust and confidence in him".

After Mr Chamberlain's dismissal and prior to the ERA investigation, Neocom was sold and is no longer trading.

Neocom said Mr Chamberlain's behaviour towards the partner of a prospective purchaser of the company during the October meeting had jeopardised his future with them, so his position would have been made redundant on November 13 had he not earlier been dismissed.

ERA member Michele Ryan declined Mr Chamberlain's application for interim reinstatement.

His claims of being unjustifiably disadvantaged and dismissed will be heard next month.

- APNZ

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