$267k win for man sacked over pizza
A Sydney worker who was sacked over a slice of pizza one day before qualifying for a huge redundancy package has been awarded a massive payout by a NSW court.
Greg Sherry worked as a Toyota manager for two decades before losing his job in March 2018 - just before he was set to pocket $379,268 in redundancy pay.
The court heard the company fired Mr Sherry "effective immediately" for "serious misconduct", alleging he had "had dishonestly and in breach of the relevant policies, incurred personal expenses on his corporate credit card in the sum of $1754.50" during a business trip to Melbourne.
Mr Sherry was set to receive the redundancy package after Toyota decided to move its corporate functions in Sydney to corporate headquarters in Port Melbourne, and reduce the workforce from 3900 to 1300.
As a parent to two young children, Mr Sherry decided not to relocate, and the business trip to Melbourne at the centre of the case was to be his last on behalf of the firm.
The Sydney man said his manager had given his approval for him to travel with his wife and two children for the trip, with Mr Sherry personally paying for his family's flights and meals, and using his corporate card to book his own flights, the joint accommodation and food.
The court heard that during the trip, he purchased a $32.50 pizza for himself - but he landed in hot water with his employer after he revealed he gave his eight-year-old son a leftover slice or two that he was too full to eat himself.
Toyota claimed Mr Sherry had broken company rules by purchasing the "meal for his son", and he was also accused of booking a bigger hotel room than necessary and staying an extra night for "personal" reasons.
However, Mr Sherry argued prices were higher as the trip coincided with the Australian Open, and he stayed the final night as he believed he would miss Sydney Airport's cut-off curfew.
In 2019, Mr Sherry launched legal action, seeking $301,000 in damages after he received a termination payment of just $80,521.
However, the District Court of NSW found Mr Sherry did not act dishonestly, and awarded him more than $276,000.
"The plaintiff struck me as being a witness trying to do his best to tell the truth. He made a number of concessions against his own interest, on occasions too easily," Judge Andrew Scotting said in legal documents seen by news.com.au.
"The plaintiff was a person of good character and regularly put (Toyota's) interests above his own
"Prior to the investigation launched in about February 2018 he had never been the subject of any disciplinary action or suspicion relating to his expense claims."
He found: "In all the circumstances the plaintiff's breaches of the relevant policies and procedures did not amount to serious misconduct as defined in the summary dismissal clause. "(Toyota) was not entitled to terminate for breach of condition because it could not establish that the plaintiff had engaged in serious misconduct," he said.
Lawyer Alexandra Targett from McDonald Murholme Solicitors told news.com.au in late 2019 that there were protections in place to help Aussies who may believe they have been treated unjustly at work.
"The primary two legal avenues are an 'unfair dismissal' claim or a 'general protections' claim. There are key differences between these two types of claims," she said at the time.
"An unfair dismissal claim focuses on whether the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, whereas a 'general protections' claim focuses on whether there was an unlawful reason for the dismissal.
"The purpose of general protections laws are to protect workplace rights, freedom of association and provide protection from workplace discrimination (such as) for age, gender or nationality."
A Toyota spokesperson told news.com.au: "Toyota Australia makes decisions regarding termination of employment after careful consideration and following a thorough investigation of all the facts.
"We accept the court's decision in this matter. Integrity in our company remains our highest priority. Out of respect for the parties involved we won't be commenting further."
Originally published as $267k win for man sacked over pizza