Liquor store employee sacked after rude email

By Patrice Dougan

Referring to a customer as 'Miss Piggy' was not appreciated by a liquor store duty manager's boss, who sacked him. Photo / Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Referring to a customer as 'Miss Piggy' was not appreciated by a liquor store duty manager's boss, who sacked him. Photo / Disney Enterprises, Inc.

A Wellington liquor store duty manager who referred to a customer as "Miss Piggy" and sent her an email calling her "rude and self-important" has lost his case for unfair dismissal.

John Chan was sacked from his job as a weekend manager for Miramar Liquorland in July last year after a number of incidents, including penning a rude email to a customer who had complained about him.

The "disparaging and belittling" email sent to the woman told her that he regretted she left before he could serve her because he would have asked her to leave the store.

He also referred to the Aaron Gilmore controversy, saying he was reminded of when the politician "acted rudely and attempted to have an employee reprimanded for not immediately attending to his needs".

Mr Gilmore was forced to resign from Parliament last year after he apparently insulted a waiter and threatened to have him sacked during a National Party regional conference in Hanmer Springs.

When Mr Chan's boss Mark Satherley pulled him up on the rude email, he hit back saying he was being bullied and intimidated, and branded the customer 'Miss Piggy'.

"After your repeated threats to dismiss me I believed that I no longer had my job, so in response to viewing Miss Piggy's complaint which you posted to me, I replied to her directly," Mr Chan said.

In a later disciplinary meeting Mr Chan said the customer had no right to make a complaint, and she was "stirring things up and there is such a thing as free speech".

But the Employment Relations Authority ruled that Mr Chan was not being bullied by his bosses, and was not unfairly dismissed.

"... he expressed no remorse for [the email]. He attempted to put the blame for his conduct on his employer and on the customer herself for having complained about his behaviour towards her in the first instance," the ERA said in its decision.

"Mr Chan's email on its own may have justified dismissal. Coupled with his failure to acknowledge any culpability for his action, and his blaming of everyone but himself for it, I have no hesitation in finding his employer was justified in dismissing him."

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