A Gisborne, NZ man was fired when photos appeared on his Facebook profile of him attending a waka ama championship at a time that he was supposed to be at home recovering from an injury.
Bruce Taiapa lost his attempt to overturn the decision, with the Employment Relations Authority ruling that his employer, the training institute Turanga Ararau, was within its rights to sack because he abused his sick leave. This ruling was further backed up by Employment Court Chief judge Colgan.
Taiapa, 59, had asked to take the week off earlier to attend the waka ama championship, but was only given three days due to the fact that there was no one else available to take his shifts. So on the Monday that he was expected to return to work, he called in sick. Claiming that he had injured his calf muscle.
Only two days later, his boss saw photos of Taiapa on Facebook. The photos were from the championships that Bruce had attended; and he was all smiles. Even giving the camera the thumbs-up.
Taiapa said that he had gone to the championships with extended family, to watch teams that he had previously coached. The group then traveled to Tauranga where his grandsons were competing in a squash tournament. It was a 7-day trip by the time Taiapa and his family returned to their hometown of Gisbourne
Once back in Grisborne, Taiapa went to the doctors to get a certificate stating that he was unable to work for the past week due to the condition of his injury. Though he was well enough to return to work three days later.
His manager Sharon Maynard made the decision to fire Taiapa after much consideration and discussions with others. Maynard said that Taiapa had misused his sick leave and attempted mislead his employer. It is clear that the trust and confidence that was placed in Taiapa was destroyed.
Taiapa's lawyers argue Turanga Ararau should not be able to dictate where Taiapa recuperated from his illness.
Employment Court Chief judge Colgan agreed that recuperation at home is a valuable way to heal an injury however this was not the deciding factor in him getting canned. Colgan also mentioned that the employees actions were inconsistent with at-home recuperation, and the employer has the right to question wither the employee is genuinely ill.
Bruce's first mistake was lying to his boss about where he was going well not realizing that his boss was able to see his Facebook.
His second mistake was posting a picture of himself online when he was supposed to be injured with a damaged calf muscle.
All adults have experienced a time when they would rather be somewhere other then work. Though someone needs to be able to cover the shift, otherwise it is unfair to the co-workers.
Brian was slick to get a fake doctor's note, in an attempt to cover his tracks. Though his argument was that he was hurt while at the event, it seemed far-fetched and ultimately led to his dismissal.
But I Believe the employer acted in a reasonable manner, and that Brian's dismissal was justified.
Unfortunately Brian has not secured work since his dismissal but I wish him the best of luck.
By: Lindsey Clark