'Heavy night' trader loses job bid
Published 11/12/2013 | 11:06
An oil trader who was sacked because he was said to be not in a fit state after a heavy night out in Singapore has lost his damages action for wrongful dismissal.
Andrew Kearns, 38, was employed by Glencore UK Ltd from January 2009 until October 2010, when he was summarily dismissed for serious misconduct after missing a series of meetings on the business trip.
Contesting the action at London's High Court, Glencore said he failed to attend critical meetings in the morning, at lunchtime and in the afternoon of October 11 and it was the latest in a series of alcohol-related incidents.
Mr Kearns agreed that was out until 4.30am drinking with colleagues, but said it was not to greater excess than anyone else and the business meetings later that day did not r equire his compulsory attendance.
Mr Kearns, of Rainham, Gillingham, Kent, received a signing-on bonus the equivalent of 325,000 US dollars (current value £202,000) when he joined the company and was on an annual salary of 225,000 US dollars (£140,000) plus other benefits.
Mr Kearns, a married father of three, was not in court to hear Judge Richard Seymour QC make a costs order against him on the higher indemnity basis, with an interim payment due of £150,000.
He said: "This claim was ludicrous - it should never have been advanced."
At the start of the trial, the judge threw out the most valuable part of the claim - in respect of share options - as "hopeless", leaving only the wrongful dismissal element which was worth £12,000 maximum.
"In those circumstances, this is about as abnormal a case of this type that one could imagine. There was no conceivable justification for any claim being made at any point."
Glencore's counsel, Jonathan Cohen, had told the court that "context is everything".
"This is an industry where a mistaken decimal point might result in losses of a very substantial nature. An employer cannot be expected to allow an employee who allows himself to become inappropriately inebriated to remain in the workplace."