Porn led to resignation
A church-going employee who watched pornography on a work computer and later resigned has failed in a claim of unjustified dismissal.
The Employment Relations Authority’s publicly released their ruling into Koliniasi Tupou’s claims today.
Tupou had worked at Waikato Milking Systems for six years, based at their Hamilton warehouse.
When he resigned in February, he claimed it was a constructive dismissal because he’d been unilaterally demoted and alleged his supervisor demoted him because he had too much time off work sick.
But the authority found Tupou’s pay rate, reporting lines, days and hours of work and basic day-to-day duties remained unchanged, although his access to a computer stopped.
On the day of his resignation, Tupou’s supervisor Aaron de Jong confronted Tupou for the second time about accessing pornography on a computer during work hours.
Tupou denied the pornography charge, but the authority found his claim wasn’t credible.
Printouts of the computer’s internet history showed a number of pornographic websites were accessed, on 11 separate dates, from the computer that Tupou mainly used.
On each date, the sites were accessed shortly after all other staff except Tupou had clocked off and left the building.
Viewing of pornographic websites always stopped a few minutes before Tupou clocked out for the day.
During the confrontation, de Jong told Tupou he was going to be moved to another part of the warehouse to limit his access to the computer where he had viewed porn.
De Jong tried to cover for Tupou telling him he’d tell management that the change was due to Tupou’s recent absences.
When chief executive Dean Bell learnt of Tupou’s "out of the blue" resignation on February 21, he enquired as to why and tried to talk him out of the decision.
Tupou told Bell he was resigning to show his sons he could make something of himself on his own steam.
Demotion, constructive dismissal or any concerns about work weren’t mentioned.
When managing director John Anderson heard of Tupou’s resignation he offered him different roles, and an option to work for a different company in the same group, but they weren’t accepted.
He probed further into the cause of the resignation and de Jong exposed the pornography use.
Anderson said he then realised Tupou had resigned over the pornographic website issue out of embarrassment and fear his actions would become known within the company or be reported to management.
He also believed Tupou might have been concerned about people in his church finding out so he decided to remove himself from the situation before it became known.
The authority found, on the balance of probabilities, that Tupou resigned because he was confronted for the second time in a few months about continuing to use a computer to look at porn during work hours.
It also found there was no demotion, no breach of duty and no constructive dismissal.
The evidence strongly indicated Tupou resigned voluntarily of his own free will and not as a reaction to some fundamental breach of duty by his employer.