Man fired over 70c theft wins compensation
A blank DVD worth 75 cents cost him his job, but David Dumolo has now been awarded $3000 compensation in the Employment Court.
The former Lakes District Health Board (LDHB) IT technician based in Rotorua was fired in May 2010 after the health board found he had acted dishonestly.
Dumolo took his case to the Employment Relations Authority, who sided with the board, finding he had engaged in serious misconduct and his dismissal was justified.
In a decision released today, Judge Mark Perkins overturned the authority's determination, and said the dismissal was unjustifiable.
Dumolo, also a martial arts instructor, had been training Rotorua hospital staff in self-defence.
After he took a blank DVD to record some footage for his martial arts students, he was sacked.
The minutes of a disciplinary meeting said Dumolo had regarded the DVD as low value, but if all 1000 staff did that it would cost the board "a lot of money".
While the sole reason for Dumolo's dismissal was the DVD incident, he had previously faced disciplinary action for failing to back up information at the hospital and complaints about his behaviour.
The judge said that in dismissing Dumolo, the employer had clearly taken into account not only that he stole a DVD but also his employment background.
His action in taking the DVD was "very much on the cusp of behaviour for which a dismissal may or may not be justifiable", he said.
The judge found Dumolo's dismissal unjustifiable and awarded him three months' ordinary time in lost wages and $3000 in compensation.
Dumolo had sought more than $50,000, including compensation for pain and suffering, hurt and humiliation, anxiety and stress.
But he had "very much been the author of his own misfortune" in the matter, displaying a casual attitude throughout the disciplinary process, the judge said.
Because of this contributory conduct, his claim was reduced.