By James Atkinson

A hotel licensee who was sacked after a money bag containing almost $12,000 went missing from her Sydney pub has failed to convince a tribunal she was unfairly dismissed (see full legal decision here).

The missing money bag containing $11,929.45 was amongst several money bags to be collected by a security guard from the Meridian Hotel in Hurstville in November last year.

The licensee maintained that she did not know about the missing money until she was advised by the hotel's accountant in December.

But she was sacked by the hotel's owner, George Thomas Hotel Group, after an investigation found that she had been aware of the missing money and had failed to report the loss in a timely manner.

The licensee subsequently started unfair dismissal proceedings against the company, claiming compensation based on a total salary package of $109,910.40 a year, comprised of a base salary of $69,910.40 a year plus accommodation benefits she valued at $40,000 a year.
In the subsequent Fair Work Australia hearing, she claimed she was busy and "flustered" on the day the incident occurred, and that the money was most likely taken by the security guard.

She argued that she had committed only one error in 15 years of service with the company and the loss should be seen within the context of the pub's takings, being in excess of $1.6 million per week.

She claimed that in a previous incident in 2008 a large sum of money was stolen from a pub owned by the George Thomas Hotel Group and the licensee of that hotel was not reprimanded following the theft.

Licensee's conduct "unacceptable": George Thomas

But the company's director, George Thomas, said it had a valid reason for sacking the licensee, because the error should have been picked up by her soon afterwards in the cross-checking process.

"This process showed the [licensee] either knew the money was missing and did not report the matter, did not say anything or just did not know about it, which indicated to me the Hotel was not being managed to an acceptable standard," he told the tribunal.

"I considered this to be unacceptable conduct and a serious instance of negligence, particularly for someone with [her] experience and knowledge."

Fair Work Australia Commissioner Michael Roberts accepted that the company had a valid reason for sacking the licensee.

"Even if everything [she] said is true, the simple fact remains that a large sum of money in her custody still disappeared without trace on 10 November 2010," he said.

"The loss of that money was her responsibility, whatever happened to it. Someone took the money and was given the opportunity to do so because [the licensee] left it unattended on the office desk."

He dismissed her application for compensation under the Fair Work Act.

George Thomas Hotel Group operations manager Chris Thomas did not respond to a request for comment.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *