Porn led to resignation

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 15:05 19/12/2012

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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 on Wednesday.

Mr Tupou had worked at Waikato Milking Systems NZ Ltd for six years as a warehouse stores person, based at their Hamilton warehouse.

While 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 Mr 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, Mr Tupou’s supervisor Aaron de Jong confronted Mr Tupou for the second time about accessing pornography on the export computer during work hours.

Mr 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 Mr Tupou mainly used.

On each date the sites were accessed shortly after all other staff, bar Mr Tupou, had clocked off and left the building.  

Viewing of pornographic websites always stopped a few minutes before Mr Tupou clocked out for the day.  

During the confrontation, Mr de Jong told Mr Tupou he was going to be moved from working mainly in the export part of the warehouse to the domestic area to limit his access to the export computer. 

Mr de Jong tried to cover for Mr Tupou telling him he’d tell management that the change was due to Mr Tupou’s recent absences which made him too unreliable to work in exports.

When chief executive Dean Bell learnt of Mr Tupou’s ‘‘out of the blue’’ resignation on February 21, he enquired as to why and tried to talk him out of the decision.

Mr Tupou told Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr de Jong exposed the pornography use.

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Mr Anderson said he then realised Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr Tupou resigned because he was confronted ntsG for the second time in a few months about continuing to use the export computer to look at porn during work hours. ntefor looking at porn at work.

It also found there was no demotion, no breach of duty and no constructive dismissal. 

The evidence strongly indicated Mr Tupou resigned voluntarily of his own free will and not as a reaction to some fundamental breach of duty by his employer.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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