A Gisborne man was justifiably fired after his boss saw Facebook pictures of him at a waka ama championship when he was meant to be at home sick, a court has found.
Bruce Taiapa has lost an appeal to try and overturn an Employment Relations Authority ruling that his employer, the training institute Turanga Ararau, was within its rights to sack him in July 2011 because he misused his sick leave.
Employment Court chief judge Colgan backed up the authority’s ruling in a decision released yesterday.
In March 2011, Taiapa, 59, asked to take a week’s leave without pay so he could attend the waka ama championships in Rotorua. He was granted only three days off because no-one was available to cover his work.
The next Monday, he called in sick, saying he had a damaged calf muscle.
Two days later, his boss saw on Facebook a picture of him at the championships. Taiapa was smiling and giving the thumbs-up.
That is beyond stupid – both the calling a sick when you are not, but competing in waka champs and being photographed there.
Once he returned to Gisborne, Taiapa got a doctor’s certificate stating that he had been unfit to work for the past week. He returned to work three days later.
This is one of the reasons I am skeptical of the numbers on the sickness benefit. It is all too easy to get a certificate.
After a series of discussions, manager Sharon Maynard dismissed Taiapa for misusing his sick leave and misleading his employer. Maynard said she had lost trust and confidence in Taiapa.
Taiapa’s lawyers argued Turanga Ararau should not be able to dictate where Taiapa recuperated from his illness.
I don’t think taking part in a waka championship is recuperation!