12:27 PM PDT, June 11, 2021
A man in England saw his career turned upside down after being fired because he had been spotted in a bar on a day when he called out sick from work. But now a judge has ruled in his favor, saying he should have not been fired, according to reports.
Colin Kane, 66, from Tyne and Wear, England, worked as a driver for a Newcastle paving contractor company called Debmat Surfacing. Just before the United Kingdom went into coronavirus lockdown, Kane called in sick to his employer, Food and Wine reported.
Kane, who worked for the company since 2012, was known to have a serious lung condition that occasionally caused him to miss his shifts, according to reports. On March 9, 2020, after calling out sick, a colleague spotted him at a local pub and told their employer, Food and Wine reported.
Reports say that when Kane returned to work, he met with the higher ups of the company as well as the person who spotted him at the bar and was told he should have not been out at a bar. Kane said he was out for 45 minutes, according to reports.
Kane then got a letter from his employer saying that he was “guilty of gross misconduct for attending the pub on numerous occasions, consuming alcohol and smoking whilst being signed off on the sick with chronic lung disease/chest infection and claiming to be at home in bed.”
Weeks later, he was fired.
Judge Andrea Pitt ruled in his favor, saying that nowhere does it say in the company’s rules that employees are not allowed to socialize while being sick, Men’s Health reported.
“There is nothing in the disciplinary procedure prohibiting an employee from acting in this way,” Pitt said. “[Debmat Surfacing] made a gross assumption, without evidence, that the claimant should not be at the social club because of the nature of his condition.”
The judge added that, “There is no rule [Debmat] can point to, which says that an employee cannot socialize in whatever way they deem appropriate whilst absent from work through illness.”
Pitt also ruled that Kane should receive compensation from his former employer. The exact amount will be decided at a future hearing.