Casino guard's unfair dope sacking

By Rosie Manins of the Otago Daily Times

Mr Fifita flushed the cannabis down a toilet and threw the packaging in a rubbish bin. Photo / Thinkstock
Mr Fifita flushed the cannabis down a toilet and threw the packaging in a rubbish bin. Photo / Thinkstock

A security guard at Dunedin Casino who was sacked after finding cannabis and flushing it down a toilet, has been awarded $2500 and six weeks' wages for unfair dismissal.

Etimoa Fifita, also known as Eddie Bloomfield, had worked at the casino for a decade before being fired last October.

He challenged the dismissal and, after a meeting in Dunedin last month, the Employment Relations Authority ruled in his favour.

It found Dunedin Casino Ltd unfairly dismissed Mr Fifita for claims he breached company policy and colluded with another employee to destroy cannabis.

On October 11 last year, a casino employee dropped a packet of cannabis inside the premises. It was later found and pointed out to Mr Fifita.

He obtained the package and spoke to a surveillance officer on duty at the time, who, after identifying the culprit, told Mr Fifita to get rid of the drugs.

Mr Fifita flushed the cannabis down a toilet and threw the packaging in a rubbish bin.

Management became aware of the incident and interviewed the three employees in question. The one who brought the cannabis into the casino resigned, as did the surveillance officer.

Mr Fifita said he did not know what the substance was, but acted on the advice of the surveillance officer.

He was sacked on October 18, when casino management told him he had breached their trust as well as policies and performance standards.

Employment Relations Authority member Mike Loftus found Mr Fifita's dismissal was unjustified, despite the fact he failed to report a significant drug-related breach and undermined the trust of his employers.

Mr Fifita sought reinstatement, but that was not "remotely practical or reasonable", Mr Loftus said.

"I concur with the casino's view it could never trust Mr Fifita again," his written finding stated.

He said Mr Fifita contributed to the situation which resulted in him being fired and, therefore, compensation of $2500 for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings was adequate.

Mr Fifita was also awarded six weeks' wages.

- Otago Daily Times

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