A car dealer who bragged about "hotboxing" a luxury car has been awarded at least $20,000 after the Employment Relations Authority found he was sacked unfairly.

Gethyn Jones worked as a car salesman for Christchurch European Limited (CEL) for four years before he was fired from his job.

Jones' relationship with director of CEL, Niki Mills, disintegrated in 2014, and a fight that broke out between the pair of them was presented as evidence of his dismissal to the ERA.

Jones' credibility was questioned by the ERA, and his Facebook posts were put forwards as proof of his poor credibility.


In one Facebook post from September 2012 he bragged about taking a $220,000 Jaguar for the night and "hot boxing" the car.

Hot boxing is a term defined in the Urban Dictionary as smoking marijuana in an enclosed space in order to maximise the narcotic effect.

"Bosses can never figure out why all my company cars smell funny" he said on Facebook in another post.

Jones denied he had used the words "hot box" to mean smoking marijuana, instead saying he was referring to game where he filled the car with hot air and tried to resist rolling down a window.

He explained the posts to the ERA by saying he was a "horrific show-off" on Facebook, and the posts were "just the ramblings of a show-off".

Jones said he had never smoked marijuana in a work car.

Christine Hickey, Member of the Authority, said Jones's evidence had been taken with caution because he "deliberately projects the image he wishes the onlooker to have, and crafts that image for different audiences."

Jones and Mills came to blows in September 2014 after Jones had taken two months leave to travel overseas and became unwell on his return. He returned to work in September, while still unwell, and Jones and Mills ended up in an argument over a commission, which Jones covertly recorded on his cellphone.


Jones said Mills physically assaulted him in the argument and sent him away, leaving Jones under the impression he had been fired.

"In all the circumstances, even taking into account Mr Jones' dogged and no
doubt irritating insistence on being right, a fair and reasonable employer could not
have acted as Niki Mills did on 14 September 2014," Hickey said in her decision.

She found Mills' actions were enough to warrant an unjustified dismissal.

The ERA awarded Jones close to $12,000 in lost wages for the three months after his dismissal.

Jones sought $20,000 compensation for the hurt and humiliation suffered when he was unjustifiably dismissed, but the Authority found $8,000 was the appropriate remedy because of his contribution to the work situation.

He was also awarded nearly $1000 for unpaid allowances and bonuses.

CEL was unaware of Jones' talk on Facebook of "hot boxing" work cars until the ERA hearing, therefore the claims on Facebook did not impact the ERA hearing and result.

Jones may be awarded more money once it is established whether he had been underpaid and should be awarded holiday pay.

CEL had failed to keep any wage records or hours worked records for Jones' employment, and was penalised $5000 for breaching its obligations.

Read the decision here: