SEXUAL GROOMING GROUND FOR DISMISSAL
SYED NAHARUDDIN BIN SYED HASHIM V ETIQA TAKAFUL BERHAD
(AWARD NO:3143 OF 2018)
- The Company received an anonymous email alleging that two officers of the Company had been operating as sexual predators and targetting girls as young as thirteen years old.
- It was also written in the alleged email that the Claimant using the pseudonym, “K-Boy”, carried out his meetings with girls at Seri Pacific Hotel in Kuala Lumpur and that the Claimant’s conversations had been recorded and featured in an undercover expose by the Star newspaper team of journalists known as STAR RAGE Team.
- Result of the investigation carried out by the Company shows that there were two video recording featuring “K-Boy” which had been uploaded onto the STAR RAGE online website and the videos had gone viral on Youtube.
- The Claimant had admitted that he was the individual in the videos during two interviews conducted by the Company and during the second interview, he admitted that he was guilty of all charges preferred against him but that his action did not cause any reputational damage to the Company or tarnish the image of the Company.
- The Claimant is of the opinion that the videos did not reveal the Claimant’s name, his occupation and position in the Company thus he could not have tarnished the image of the Company.
- The Company asserts that the Claimant was dismissed due to serious misconduct that tarnished the image and reputation of the Company. The misconduct was that the Claimant met with someone whom he thought was a minor on two separate occasions. During the meeting, he attempted to persuade her to follow him into his hotel room and had sexually explicit conversations pertaining to his past sexual exploits with young underage girls, some as young as 13 years old.
- Whether the misconduct complained by the Company has been established;
- Whether the proven misconduct constitutes just cause or excuse for the dismissal.
COURT FINDING AND REASONING
- The actions of the Claimant can amount to sexual communication. The facts of the case which are largely admitted to by the Claimant are that he communicated with the intended “victim” in social media and then met up with the person. The setting, the time and the locale were such that a person of his standing in society and representing an insurance company should have been wary of. Further, the conversations were explicitly related to sex and sexual exploits which a man of his age has no business to discuss with a young lady, notwithstanding her real age.
- The Claimant’s actions amounted to serious misconduct and dismissal was within the range of reasonable responses. Any argument that the Claimant is entitled to do whatever he likes after office hours does not hold water. Although the Claimant’s activities were generally carried out in his own time and personal in nature, this court holds that such actions are not disconnected with his employment and any personal action that may pose legal risks to the Company and cast aspersions on the Company’s ethics and morals are a reflection of the Company.
- The case involves sexual grooming and not sexual harassment per se.
- The Company does not have to show that the actions of the Claimant are criminal in nature or that the charges against him are proven on a standard that befits criminal case.
- The nature of the Company business was taken into account.