Casino Worker Fired After Destroying Marijuana

Casino Worker Fired After Destroying MarijuanaA security guard at the Dunedin Casino in New Zealand has been awarded compensation after the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) concluded he was dismissed unfairly after flushing an employee’s bag of marijuana down a toilet.
Back in October 2011, Etimoa Fifita discovered a bag of cannabis lying on the floor of the casino, which a co-worker had apparently dropped by accident. Fifita then contacted the casino’s surveillance officer, who was able to determine who the marijuana belonged to, but rather than pursuing the matter further advised Mr Fifita to destroy the bag, instead.
The security guard subsequently flushed its contents down the toilet and threw the bag away in a rubbish bin, but after management became aware of the incident, the surveillance officer and the person whom the cannabis belonged to resigned. However, despite Mr Fifita denying any wrongdoing, he was subsequently sacked by the casino for “colluding with the surveillance officer to destroy drugs.”
In his defence, Mr Fifita, who has worked at the casino for around 10 years, said he had never seen marijuana before and believed the bag simply contained rubbish. However, his explanation was not accepted by the Dunedin Casino, who then sent him a dismissal letter stating:
“Anything you previously found which you believed to be rubbish was disposed of in a rubbish bin..You clearly knew what you were disposing of was not ‘rubbish’ but cannabis.. We have lost faith that you are able to carry out your duties as a security officer with the honesty and integrity we believe is essential to this role.”
Nevertheless, Mr Fifita challenged the dismissal on the grounds he did not receive a fair hearing and after being considered by the ERA, the organization upheld his complaint. Explaining its decision, the ERA explained; “Underpinning the casino’s decision to dismiss was a conclusion Mr Fifita knew he was handling cannabis but..the accusation was never put.”
Therefore, Mr Fifita has now been awarded $2,500 in compensation for humiliation and loss of dignity, as well as six weeks of wages. This was deemed a satisfactory resolution to bring the situation to a close, as the ERA agreed with the casino’s view that “it could never trust Mr Fifita again.”

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