Storeman viewed porn 'to take his mind off work'

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:21 17/10/2012

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Looking at internet porn at work earned a man the sack, despite his excuse that he did it only to take his mind off his demanding job.

Reginald Hiha was dismissed in August 2011 from his position as storeman at Mico Bathrooms in Mt Maunganui after being caught looking at pornography.

Employment Relations Authority member Anna Fitzgibbon said Mr Hiha explained he would look at the material to "take his mind off work, which he was finding demanding".

He said he would have been embarrassed if anyone knew of the sites he was viewing so he took care other staff would not see.

But despite his attempts at secrecy, Mr Hiha was spotted by a female staff member while he was looking at the pornographic images, and she complained to branch manager Malcolm Peden.

After investigating Mr Hiha's internet history, the company called him to a meeting to discuss the issue.

Mr Hiha admitted he had accessed the internet to view pornography regularly during a three-month period before his dismissal, but did not agree that this constituted a serious breach of the company's policy.

He told Mr Peden the material was only pictures with the occasional video and was "not harsh and . . . only people".

After disciplinary proceedings and a further meeting, a decision was made to dismiss Mr Hiha.

Mr Hiha argued that the company's policies should have explained what types of pornography were serious and could result in dismissal and which were less serious and could result in rights to internet access being removed.

Ms Fitzgibbon said she had viewed two reports of Mr Hiha's internet usage and described the images as "graphic and objectionable".

"One of the reports I viewed contains 164 images depicting images of naked women, naked women and men in lewd poses and performing sex acts."

She considered the material seriously offensive.

Ms Fitzgibbon said the company had complied with its responsibilities as a fair and reasonable employer in firing Mr Hiha.

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- Waikato Times

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