Worker sacked for wrestling shark whilst on sick leave

by Employment Law Advice Solicitors on March 12, 2013

A worker has been sacked from his position in a charity that he helped to build after his employers saw footage of him on Youtube wrestling a shark whilst he was on sick leave.

Mr Paul Marshallsea, from Merthyr Tydfil, helped to build the Pant and Dowlais Boys and Girls Club in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, from the “ground up” as a project coordinator at the Dowlais Engine House. His wife, Wendy, worked as a senior youth worker and event manager at the club. They stated that they were “surprised” by the succes of the Pant and Dowlais club and that the workload (which they say meant that they would often work seven days a week) caused them to become severely stressed. Their doctor recommended that they take a period of work on sick leave to recover from the stress and it is also claimed that their doctor stated they should go on holiday to relieve their symptoms. The couple therefore traveled to Australia in October 2012 to visit friends.

Whilst in Queensland, Australia, Mr Marshallsea was filmed attempting to maneuver a bronze shark away from toddlers on the beach. This was filmed on a smartphone, uploaded on to Youtube on the internet, and subsequently broadcast around the world. Mr Marshallsea’s employers saw the video and recognised him. He subsequently returned home to find that he had been summarily dismissed from his employment for allegedly fraudulently claiming that he was sick. The letter of dismissal stated that “whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia and, according to recent footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail”. Mr Marshallsea’s wife, Wendy, was also summarily dismissed from her employment with the club. The trustees of the club stated that they viewed the incident as a “serious breach of trust and confidence”.

It does not appear that Mr Marshallsea’s employers carried out an investigation into the matter, nor that they conducted a disciplinary into the allegations against Mr Marshallsea. This could render the decision to dismiss him unfair – which could constitute good grounds for Mr Marshallsea’s pursuing an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.

Mr Marshallsea said that he felt “sick in his stomach” when he received the letter and that he couldn’t believe that the trustees of the charity had treated him as they had. It is not known whether Mr Marshallsea has instructed an employment law solicitor yet but the adverse publicity that an Employment Tribunal claim could cause may persuade both parties to enter into a compromise agreement instead of becoming engaged in litigation.

Employment Law Solicitors offer compromise agreement advice and based in central London

Employment Law Advice Solicitors

Employment Law Advice Solicitors

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