Does minor theft justify dismissal?

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In 2011, the Employment Relations Authority decided that the Lakes District Health Board was justified in dismissing their IT support man (Mr Dumolo) for stealing a blank DVD.

Mr Dumolo accepted that the DVD was the Health Board’s property and that he didn’t have permission to take it, but he said that because it was a low value item he used every day for work, he thought it would be ok to take it as if it was a pen or piece of paper.

The Health Board said it had twelve hundred staff and that it would be very expensive if all staff took home blank DVDs. For the Health Board the issue was one of principle, not cost. The authority found Mr Dumolo had unauthorised possession of his employer’s property and it was open to the Health Board to conclude that he had acted dishonestly. The ERA considered that a fair and reasonable employer would have concluded that Mr Dumolo’s action in taking the DVD amounted to serious misconduct because it fundamentally undermined the trust and confidence fundamental to every employment relationship.

The ERA accepted that the Health Board had reasonable grounds to conclude that it could not trust Mr Dumolo in the future because he had not demonstrated any remorse, he strongly believed that he had not done anything wrong and he had not given the health board any reason to believe that he would comply with its rules of conduct in the future.

If you need advice on workplace discipline or dismissal, please call Workplace Law on 09 631 5553.

Dumolo v Lakes District Health Board [2011] NZERA Auckland 343; 29/07/2011