Tourism

Business traveller awarded $276K after dismissal over pizza bill and hotel expenses

A former Toyota manager who was sacked over a $32.50 pizza among other corporate credit card expenses has been awarded more than $276,000 after a court found he did not act dishonestly and was unlawfully terminated.

Nine newspapers reported that Greg Sherry sued Toyota in the NSW District Court for terminating his employment with immediate effect in March 2018 – just a day short of him qualifying for a $379,000 redundancy package that he was due to receive after more than 20 years of service.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Sherry instead received a termination payment of $80,521.

According to the paper, Toyota had claimed his employment was terminated on the grounds of serious misconduct, including that he booked a larger room than was required for a work trip to Melbourne.

Sherry was accompanied by his wife and two young children, and bought a pizza on his work credit card for his son, The Herald reported.

Toyota had alleged Sherry had failed to select a lower-cost standard room when he booked a suite at the Crown Metropol Hotel in Southbank.

However, the travel request—that reportedly included an email from a travel agent setting out around $1,500 in additional accommodation costs—had been approved by his manager. Additionally, Crown was an approved hotel under Toyota’s accommodation policy.

Sherry was reportedly unaware, however, that he had booked a more expensive room due to the Australian Open being on at the time.

In addition, Judge Andrew Scotting found that the cost of a $32.50 pizza during the trip was Sherry’s own meal and that his son ate one or two leftover slices. Sherry paid for his family’s meals, totalling $50.50, on his personal credit card.

Judge Scotting said Sherry had a “misplaced sense of loyalty” to Toyota which “allowed his offer to pay the disputed expenses to be used against him” in court.

“The plaintiff was a person of good character and regularly put [Toyota’s] interests above his own,” he said, and had never been the subject of prior disciplinary action or suspicion relating to expense claims, The Herald reported.

Scotting ordered Toyota to pay him $276,681 plus legal costs and to issue a statement characterising the payment “as a bona fide redundancy”.

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