Judge Rules Being Caught At Bar On Sick Day Isn’t A Fireable Offense
66-year-old Colin Kane is a smoker and has some sort of lung condition because of it.
On March 9th of last year, he called into his job at Debmat Surfacing in Newcastle, England where he's worked since 2012 to tell them he was feeling unwell and needed to stay in bed all day. They were fine with it and understanding.
However, later that afternoon he was spotted by a coworker at a bar near his place of employment, drinking and smoking.
When his bosses called, Colin told them he'd 'been in bed all day with his chest.'
He was called to a meeting with the contracts manager, Shaun Johnson, who said ‘Surely if you had been unfit for work and on antibiotics, you shouldn’t be in the pub.’
Colin said he just stopped by the pub for a short time, so there was nothing wrong with what he did.
The company took disciplinary action towards him, firing him in July for dishonesty and breaching of the company's rules.
Colin turned around and took the company to court for wrongful termination, where a judge ended up ruling in his favor.
Judge Andrea Pitt found that he had been unfairly fired because the company's rules didn't specify banning employees from socializing when they call off sick.
"There is nothing in the disciplinary procedure prohibiting an employee from acting in this way," She said. "Debmat Surfacing made a gross assumption, without evidence, that the claimant should not be at the social club because of the nature of his condition."
She also said the company claimed Colin called off of work on a Tuesday, where he really called off on a Monday. Judge Pitt said it was a serious error in the investigation.
A further hearing will happen when to determine the amount of money the company will have to pay out to Colin in compensation.