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Sex shop worker fired for phone call as thief swiped X-rated DVDs; Former employee's case for unfair dismissal is thrown out.

Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Sunday Mercury Writer

ASEX shop worker has vowed to clear his name after being sacked following the theft of Xrated DVDs from the store by a customer.

John Wayne Scopel was given his marching orders for being on the phone rather than keeping an eye on the thief who rifled six or seven discs from Coventry's Private Shop.

The incident took place on February 6 last year, months after Mr Scopel was warned about using his mobile while customers were in the adult shop, a Birmingham employment tribunal was told.

The 49-year-old had accused Darker Enterprises Ltd, which owns a string of sex shops in the UK and has a PS5 million per year turnover, of unfair dismissal, unlawful deduction of wages, breach of contract and failure to provide payslips.

Tribunal judge Dimbylow awarded Mr Scopel PS159 in unpaid wages, but dismissed all the other claims.

In his report, just published, the judge was critical of Mr Scopel's conduct during the hearing, which included requests for lie detector tests.

"He is articulate and intelligent," the judge said. "However, he did not present well, adopting a very blinkered approach to the facts, being unable to countenance any other explanation than his own.

"He found it difficult to take directions from the tribunal. He repeatedly requested the use of lie detector equipment in the hearing. He had been told in advance that this would not be used but he would not let it go.

"The same trait appeared in his continued making of wild allegations against the respondent (company).

"He was not a credible witness and was at least mistaken. He could accept no wrongdoing on his own part."

Mr Scopel has not taken the decision lying down. He has written to the tribunal asking for the judgment to be "reconsidered".

He started work at the Coventry branch in May, 2017, and, as a sales assistant, earned PS315 a week.

He insisted no blame could be attached to him for the DVD theft, explaining: "Because I was busy ordering over the phone to the warehouse, I didn't see the guy steal the DVDs, but made (the manager) aware of the situation immediately, because I had my suspicion.

I only have one pair of eyes."

The tribunal heard that Mr Scopel had previously been warned: "You have been observed talking on your mobile phone when customers were in the shop and you must cease all telephone calls when customers enter."

Mr Scopel claimed the conversation had been "fabricated". He had also allegedly been informed his work fell short of what was expected.

The judge agreed with Darker Enterprises' version of events. He added: "I find and conclude the facts demonstrate the claimant was dismissed because he was not suitable for the job, in that he had been warned over the use of a telephone when a customer entered the shop and he did not comply with that warning.

"By his own admission, the claimant was on the telephone when a customer came in. He did not stop his telephone conversation.

"Whether it was his mobile or a landline is immaterial, he was told that he shouldn't be using a telephone.

"I find claims for automatic unfair dismissal are not wellfounded, fail and are dismissed."

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 18, 2019
Words:551
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