A man who was fired for using his company credit card while on a three-day weekend in Las Vegas has been awarded $10,000 compensation.
Yuval Shoshany's employment with Wellington-based 4RF Limited was terminated in March, after he used a work credit card for more than $20,000 worth of personal expenses, according to an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision.
Mr Shoshany had been working for the company -- which designs and manufactures wireless radio products -- since December 2013.
He did not believe his dismissal was justified as he had informed the company every time he had made these purchases and had asked them to deduct the money from his wages. He took this claim to the ERA.
ERA member Michele Ryan agreed and awarded him $10,000 in compensation for "humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to feelings".
Mr Shoshany, based in 4RF's Israel office as director of global systems engineering, had travelled in May last year to the United States on business.
He used the company credit card to make cash withdrawals and to purchase personal items adding up to almost US$4500 ($6800).
He sent his May credit card statement to the 4RF accounts officer in an email a month later, copying in the chief financial officer (CFO) and vice-president of sales, informing them all of his personal purchases.
Mr Shoshany asked that they deduct the amount spent from his salary and he received a response from 4RF accounts thanking him and notifying him that the deduction would be made.
Then, in early January this year, Mr Shoshany used the company credit card to pay $4584.17 to a local government agency. Later that month he again travelled to the US on business, where he attended meetings in Phoenix and San Diego.
In a weekend between the two scheduled appointments he visited Las Vegas, and over three days made cash withdrawals and purchased personal items using the company credit card, totalling about $11,500.
When he then tried to use the card to secure a hotel booking on February 3, it declined.
When the company CFO was notified of the problem, he contacted Mr Shoshany asking him to explain the list of recent credit card transactions.
Later that month, following a receipt of the January visa statement sent by 4RF's head office, Mr Shoshany attached and returned the statement by email, noting: "The highlighted in yellow should be my personal transactions".
The CFO replied asking why there was $9000 of "personal transactions" that month.
Mr Shoshany explained: "Half of this is a mistake made and paid with company credit card for our local government".
He added: "All the rest is purchases or cash I used while in the US last trip".
The CFO informed Mr Shoshany that he had reviewed both the January and February credit card statements and the amount of retail and cash advances.
"This level of personal expenditure on the company card is unacceptable; this is not a private banking arrangement that can be used to fund personal expenses. I have today instructed ANZ to cancel the card with immediate effect."
Mr Shoshany acknowledged he had made a "foolish and naive mistake" and said he now realised he should have spoken to the head office to ask for permission in advance.
"My wife asked me to shop for the kids and I foolishly withdrew money from the corporate credit card thinking this is okay since the company can deduct the sums from my coming salary.
"I understand now that when you look at the credit card charges and see those charges it does not look good especially since it was in Las Vegas, but back then I thought it was okay and it was clearly a mistake."
He said the mistake would never happen again and asked them to accept his apology.
The chief executive of 4RF wrote to Mr Shoshany in March and asked him to attend a disciplinary meeting via a Skype conference call.
A few days later, the chief executive concluded Mr Shoshany's conduct had "damaged trust and confidence" and his actions amounted to serious misconduct, warranting summary dismissal.
Ms Ryan disagreed with the company's decision and ordered 4RF to reimburse Mr Shoshany with three and a half months' lost wages, and $10,000 compensation.
He could not be reinstated in his job, however, as his role within the company had since been disestablished.
Ms Ryan said Mr Shoshany's dismissal was "procedurally and substantively unjustified and he has a personal grievance".