Man threatens to cut out workmate's tongue
A man fired for threatening to cut out a workmate's tongue and kill his dog could have kept his job if he had admitted doing it, the Employment Relations Authority has found.
Tony Looker claimed he had been unjustifiably dismissed from his truck driving job at A G Walters and Sons transport company after allegedly threatening a fellow staff member.
On October 18, 2011, Alex Probar claimed Looker made threats towards him while he was making a cup of tea at 5.20am.
"He (Mr Looker) then came over and said that he had a mate of his that was coming over to my house to cut out my tounge and kill my dogs because that is what he does to narks," a complaint by Pobar details.
Pobar said he left the lunch room and was half way down the stores office when Looker came "running at me from behind and shoulder barged me", before repeating the threats.
A co-worker saw the exchange, but did not hear the words used, while another later told the company's operations manager, Rick Linton, that Looker had boasted about making the threats.
During a disciplinary meeting, that afternoon, Looker denied making the threats, saying he had not spoken to Probar at all that day and did not know he owned dogs.
The company sacked Looker that day.
At the authority hearing hearing Looker admitted he had spoken to Probar, but denied using the words complained about.
Looker argued his employers had not followed the formal disciplinary process, as set out in a union agreement, and he did not get on with the union delegate who represented him in the meeting.
He also claimed the evidence against him was tainted, and more witnesses should have been spoken to.
The authority said the company had conducted an appropriate investigation into the allegation and gave Looker a proper opportunity to be heard.
They said because Looker did not make any of his concerns known to the company at the time of the initial meeting, they could only base their decision on what was presented to them.
If Looker had not denied the altercation completely during their initial meeting, the authority said, the consequence "would have been a warning rather than a dismissal".
Looker has been ordered to pay his former employers costs from the hearing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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