The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ruled a tech company’s dismissal of a senior sales and marketing manager was unjustified. The ERA’s decision found the company failed to follow proper processes by not offering the employee a position in the company when it became vacant during his notice period.
Yoon Cheol Hong worked for Chevron Traffic Services Ltd as a Traffic Controller from September 2017 until his dismissal in June 2018 which related to repeated “serious safety concerns”. It was reported that Mr Hong failed to communicate to other workers by radio-telephone, allowed traffic to enter a restricted area on four occasions, and that he directed cars against the flow of traffic on at least three occasions.
Mr Hong took his employer to the Employment Court in October 2019, arguing that he had been unjustifiably dismissed and that Chevron was in breach of its duty of good faith. He sought a total of $80,000, for hurt and humiliation and reimbursement for loss of earnings.
During the employer’s investigation, Wayne Clarke, Managing Director, said Mr Hong denied the conduct, said it was a “frame up” and that there was a “conspiracy” by other staff to get rid of him. Mr Clarke said that Mr Hong used an aggressive manner in meetings, made allegations of racial bias and taunted him, in an attempt to get Mr Clarke to suspend him. In regards to the incidents that had been investigated, Mr Clarke mentioned that misdirecting traffic had previously resulted in a death and was therefore seen as serious.
Judge Perkins dismissed all of Mr Hong’s claims. He ruled that Mr Hong’s actions did constitute serious misconduct and the employer had not breached their obligation to act in good faith. Judge Perkins noted that in fact, Mr Hong had instead breached his duties, and summary dismissal was warranted.
Chevron sought $20,912.50 in legal costs. The Court ruled that Mr Hong would make a contribution to Chevron’s costs of $17,000.
(As reported on Stuff.co.nz at 05.00, 23 June 2020)