Sacked oil trader Andrew Kearns launches claim


Jan Colley
Friday 15 November 2013 20:44

An oil trader who was sacked because he was said to be not in a fit state after a heavy night out has launched a claim 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 a business trip to Singapore.

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 (£140,000).

Glencore, which is contesting the action at London’s High Court, says 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 such incidents. It claims he did not answer his phone or emails when efforts were made to find out where he was and, when asked for an explanation, said he did not know there were any meetings.

Glencore said it had tried to support Mr Kearns with his alcohol-related issues but the incident justified summary dismissal without warning.

Its counsel Jonathan Cohen said: “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.”

Mr Kearns agreed he stayed out until 4.30am with colleagues he had been asked to take out for drinks but denied there were any business meetings later that day which required his compulsory attendance.

His counsel Ahmed Miah said: “We say the dismissal is a mockery and the whole dismissal process was a sham and there was no true or just reason to accuse him of not turning up to meetings when his attendance was not obligatory.” He told Judge Richard Seymour QC that the married father of three’s reputation was “on the line”. “He accepts he was out drinking but he would say not to any greater excess than any of the colleagues he was out with.”

The hearing was adjourned until Monday when Mr Kearns will give evidence.

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