Employee unjustly dismissed after $20K expenses spree

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A man who was sacked after using his company credit card during a trip to Las Vegas has been awarded $10,000 compensation.

Yuval Shoshany – who was employed by Wellington-based 4RF Limited – was terminated from his position in March after racking up more than $20,000 worth of personal expenses, The New Zealand Herald reported.

According to an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision, Shoshany had been working for 4RF since December 2013.

He took his case to the ERA, claiming that his dismissal was unjustified because he had informed the company each time he had made a purchase and requested that they deduct the money from his pay.

Authority member Michele Ryan agreed with Shoshany and awarded him $10,000 compensation for “humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to feelings”.

Ryan disagreed with the company’s decision to dismiss Shoshany, and ordered 4RF to reimburse him with three and a half months’ lost wages as well as the $10,000 compensation.

However, she said that he could not be reinstated because his role within the company had since been disestablished.

Ryan found that the dismissal was “procedurally and substantively unjustified and he [had] a personal grievance”.

Shoshany was based in the company’s Israel office as director of global systems engineering, and travelled to the US in May last year on business.

He used the company credit card to make cash withdrawals and purchase personal items, which added up to almost US$4500 ($6800).

A month later, Shoshany sent his credit card statement to the company’s accounts officer in an email, copying in the chief financial officer (CFO) and VP of sales, informing them of the purchases.

Shoshany asked them to deduct the amount he had spent from his wages, and he received a response from the email’s recipients telling him that the deduction would be made.

In January this year, Shoshany used the company credit card to pay $4584.17 to a local government agency. Later that month, he travelled again to the US, during which time he visited Las Vegas and spent $11,500 on the card.

The card declined when he attempted to use the card to book a hotel.

The CFO was notified of the problem, and contacted Shoshany requesting an explanation for the recent credit card transactions.

Shoshany sent the CFO a response in which he “highlighted” several transactions on the January visa statement and explained that they were his “personal transactions”.

The CFO subsequently questioned why there had been $9000 of “personal transactions” in a month.

“Half of this is a mistake made and paid with company credit card for our local government,” Shoshany responded. “All the rest is purchases or cash I used while in the US.”

“This level of personal expenditure on the company card is unacceptable; this is not a private banking arrangement that can be used to fund personal expenses,” the CFO subsequently said. “I have today instructed ANZ to cancel the card with immediate effect.”

Shoshany acknowledged his “foolish and naïve mistake”, and said that he now realised he should have sought permission from the head office before using the card.

“My wife asked me to shop for the kids and I foolishly withdrew money from the corporate credit card thinking this is okay since the company can deduct the sums from my coming salary,” he conceded.

“I understand now that when you look at the [statements] and see those charges it does not look good, especially since it was in Las Vegas, but back then I thought it was okay and it was clearly a mistake.”

Shoshany said he would not repeat his actions, and offered an apology.

4RF’s chief executive wrote to Shoshany in March and asked him to attend a disciplinary meeting via a Skype conference call.

Several days after the call, it was decided by the chief executive that Shoshany’s misconduct had “damaged trust and confidence”, and consequently warranted summary dismissal.

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