Friday, October 14, 2005

IR case #2, "Factcheck Challenged"

Exactly a week after starting work, Two staff did not arrive for work at the Divers Arms.

Their room (they were in a common-law marriage) in the staff quarters was vacant, the key left in the open door.

He was a Chef. She a Receptionist.

A yellow post-it note reading "Good Luck" was stuck atop the 10cm high pile of paperwork she had supposedly been processing the night before on (what became) her final shift.

What she had been doing instead was tampering with every accommodation booking for the next several weeks, dates of arrival, contact phone number, length of stay etc. were all altered, many were deleted.

Three days of full time work, referring to the handwritten paper copies, was required just to rectify this damage.

A few weeks later a bill arrives from the taxi company, dated the morning of their departure, for their 6am ride to the airport! Until that moment, Mine Host had been unaware that taxi rides were on anything but a strictly-cash basis.

For this Mine Host reported the pair to the police, for fraud.

Some weeks later a fax is recieved from the Industrial Relations Dept.
The pair were claiming for unfair dismissal (including for wages to be paid in lieu of "no notice of dismissal given by the employer".)

Shocked return fax advised I.R. that all allegations were false.
Several senior staff & professional advisors informed I.R. that the wording of the complaint was defamatory. The police were notified that the taxi fraud suspects had surfaced.

I.R. kept faxing, tersely noting that payment had not yet been made to the claimants, & recommending that Mine Host pay up, to "avoid the matter being handed to a compliance officer for investigation & prosecution".

Several statements were produced by I.R., all supporting the pair of claimants. Every statement was by disgruntled former staff.

In support of Mine Host were statements by:
Several CPA's (Accountancy professionals)
Contract Head Chefs (with several leading overseas hotels on their C.V.)
Four persons of sufficient character to hold a liquor licence, including 2 who were J.P.'s.

I.R. openly took the view that all statements made in support of Mine Host were by people who "would say that wouldn't they?"

I.R. openly took the view that statements supporting the claimants, by persons with outstanding arrest warrants in other states amounted to "damning evidence" against Mine Host.

Mine Host's representations that the Two claimants had "done a runner" may have tweaked a chord with the I.R. investigator. Very early in the investigation the pair were called in & asked had they absconded without notice from their employment with Mine Host.

Gravely they both denied this.

The following morning both had disappeared from their rented accommodation, from their new jobs, their mobile phone numbers had been deactivated. They were suspected of fleeing interstate (to avoid jurisdiction). I.R. was never able to contact or locate them.

But none of this was revealed to Mine Host by the compliance officer. The terse, demanding faxes continued, for months.

Statements by Mine Host that the pair had "done a runner from their job" were scoffed at by the compliance officer.

The rough treatement of Mine Host ceased only when the housekeeping staff at the Divers Arms wrote a joint statement in their own words: "Fritz & Xaviera had been bragging about what a laugh it would be to make a mess of the paperwork, then do a bolt without telling the boss, this hotel was a joke to them, but to the rest of us it is our job & our living, we reckon they done the wrong thing."

I.R. then faxed that prosecution would not be proceeding at this point, due to "insufficient evidence".

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