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A cut-price purchase that threatened to make an employee pay the ultimate price.

Published 17 May 2023

Let’s face it who does not enjoy the perks of a job, but for Marty it nearly came with a hefty price to pay.

The retail worker faced the threat of dismissal for abusing the staff and family discount benefits at the electrical retail store where he had worked for six years.

Bosses at the outlet received an anonymous tip that Marty was using his discount to purchase goods for friends, and not relatives, and pocketing cash as a thank you for getting items at a reduced price.

Marty was suspended from work, told the matter was serious and advised by a colleague to resign because he would be dismissed.

Shocked Marty did contemplate taking that advice before he sought guidance from a cousin who he knew had, had her own problems at work.

She put Marty in touch with our Employee Support Centre and he discussed his case with our representative.

Marty said he felt the anonymous tip came from a bitter former colleague. He was dismissed before making an unsuccessful unfair dismissal claim and later blamed Marty for letting him down and not supporting him as a witness.

Regarding the case he was facing, Marty explained he had taken full advantage of the staff discount and made many personal purchases, which his employer was now alleging was an abuse of the benefit.

He explained that in the last year he had started working with his brother buying and renovating properties and had used his discount to purchase some appliances for houses he had worked on.

Marty said his manager was fully aware of it, had authorised sales and never raised a concern.

Our representative was told by Marty he had explained all of this to his employer when he attended a fact-finding meeting as part of the disciplinary investigation.

At that meeting Marty was shown a list of his purchases and told they had been excessive and that he was abusing the discount scheme for personal gain.

There was one transaction that Marty was concerned about. He sold a TV to the girlfriend of his nephew and used his family discount for it.

He was told because she was not a relative he had misused the benefit.

Marty was invited to a disciplinary hearing to face allegations of abusing and misusing the staff and family discount benefit.

The investigation found no evidence that he was buying goods for friends and pocketing cash as originally alleged.

The invite to the disciplinary hearing did warn Marty that if proven the allegations would amount to gross misconduct and could lead to dismissal.

Our representative requested a copy of the staff and family discount policy prior to the disciplinary hearing.

After reviewing it, it was clear it did not impose any restrictions or limit on the number of personal purchases an employee could make using their discount.

Our representative said it was perhaps the best evidence to show Marty had not abused the discount scheme as alleged.

He also told the hearing he understood the concerns raised and suggested the employer should review and possibly amend the policy, which it later did.

The hearing was also told by our representative that Marty was open and transparent about his personal purchases and reason for them, which were done with his manager’s knowledge.

The disciplinary hearing chair did confirm the manager had finally been spoken to just before the hearing and had corroborated what Marty had said and that allegation would now be dismissed.

In terms of the discount purchase sale to the girlfriend of his nephew, it was explained by our representative that the pair lived together and the purchase was essentially for a relative who was unable to come in and buy the TV at the time.

It was argued that at worse it was a genuine mistake selling the item to the girlfriend of his nephew and not to his nephew, but it was certainly not an act of gross misconduct worthy of dismissal.

Marty was asked a number of questions about the purchases and reasons for them.

He was later cleared of all allegations.

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