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Man fired for charging scooter with employer's electricity
Photo: DPA

Man fired for charging scooter with employer's electricity

Published: 01 Sep 2010 17:44 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Sep 2010 17:44 GMT+02:00

A North Rhine-Westphalia state labour court this week will address a case brought by a man fired for using a company power outlet to charge his electric scooter, which cost the firm just €0.018.

In the latest of several similar cases to occupy the German justice system recently, a 41-year-old Neunkirchen man lost his job as a network administrator because his employer said he did not have the right to use electricity at their expense.

He charged the vehicle for approximately one and a half hours.

The man, who had worked for the company for 19 years, first took his case to a Siegen court, which ruled in his favour because they had employed him for so long without complaint.

But the company appealed, and now the case will be addressed on Thursday at the court in Hamm.

This June a federal labour court in Erfurt ruled that a former cashier for the Kaiser’s supermarket chain was unjustly fired for allegedly taking €1.30 in bottle deposits after 31 years on the job.

The presiding judges said the infraction by Barbara E., known throughout Germany by her nickname Emmely, was not worthy of termination because the value of the deposit slips was so low. The case, which began in August 2008, sparked outrage across Germany, as the cashier’s supporters felt she was unnecessarily persecuted for a minor offence.

In recent years, there have been several other cases involving Germans fired for small misdeeds such as improperly eating leftover company food while on the job.

A disabled Hannover woman working at a nursing home was sacked after 18 years on the job for eating pâté intended for patients last November and in October a court in Baden-Württemberg ruled that a 58-year-old nursing home worker was rightfully sacked for taking home leftover Maultaschen, a Swabian specialty similar to ravioli.

Those incidents were preceded by a 59-year-old Dortmund secretary who was fired after 34 years on the job for snagging a Frikadelle, or meatball, after setting a conference buffet for her employer, the North Rhine-Westphalian building association. The company later retracted her dismissal in response to public outrage.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:05 September 1, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Why not publish the name of the chickensh*t employer so that people can boycott that company? Maybe the employer can learn just how much bad publicity 0.018 can buy.
18:25 September 1, 2010 by William Thirteen
hear hear Prufrock!
19:48 September 1, 2010 by bernie1927
Is it possible that this incident was not the real reason but that the guy was a dud and the company thought this was a good way to get rid of him? I know how hard it is in Germany to fire anybody. If he would have been any good, I am sure the boss would have talked to him about it and that would have been the end of it.
20:24 September 1, 2010 by frankiep
Wow. This guy must have been a real piece of crap employee if the company fired him for this. Make no mistake, if this guy was a halfway decent employee he would not have been let go for 0.018. It's just unfortunate that now this company will receive, as someone else posted, "bad publicity" for having the nerve to fire someone who obviously provided nothing of any use to them.
20:28 September 1, 2010 by VoodooDingy
Haaah hah! I would have fired him simply for posessing an electric scooter!! :D:D
22:18 September 1, 2010 by wood artist
I gotta go with prufrock too.

The funny thing I gotta ask is this:

If he had "taken" a pen or pencil, probably worth more, would they have fired him for that? Is this about the amount, the principle, or just plain retaliatory for something else?

I'm doubting the amount is the issue.

02:11 September 2, 2010 by ron1amr
For a start he is doing the right thing by riding a zero emission motor scooter. Maybe he should have made a request to use power. The other thing he could invest in a solar panel if not under cover to charge scooter. But if it was unguarded could be stolen. The company could have meters on their outlets so you pay this type of arrangement must be implemented for this increasing likely occurrence of electric powered vehicles. I would like an electric motor bike or a electric car. In an ideal world the whole building could have its own renewable source of power.
07:38 September 2, 2010 by steve_glienicke
or maybe this company wanted or needed to reduce headcounts and saw this as a chance to get rid of someone of 19 years service for free? afterall it would have cost more in administration costs in the firm alone to fire him than he actually used0.18 cents seems to little an amount to justify the sack, there is for sure something else behind the reason to fire him.
08:27 September 2, 2010 by 1FCK_1FCK
Hell, anyone who gets away with anything like this is fine by me. They don't mind stealing our lives 8 hours at a time for a crap wage. Why should we feel bad for taking a few whatevers of electricity? The work week hasn't been reduced for 70 years when it dropped to around 40. Shorten the work week & we'll stop "stealing" your electricity.
09:16 September 2, 2010 by LMFAO
He could have asked first.
09:22 September 2, 2010 by catjones
Rules are Rules in germany. Day after day, week after week, year after year, it all adds up. Pretty soon you're talking about an euro not just pennies.
09:34 September 2, 2010 by freechoice
OMG!! Does it mean I cannot charge my own mobile phone with company's electricity too? Scary!!
09:53 September 2, 2010 by dcgi
I can imagine this was the employers thought process...

1) Charging your scooter!! That must cost the company loads!

2) Even if that doesn't, I still have to pay for petrol, that DOES cost loads therefore why shouldn't you have to pay

3) I dont care if it didn't even cost 2 cents, it's still stealing!
10:57 September 2, 2010 by Gerd1965
Companies never fire employees because of a few cent. They use it as false pretence to sack people they just want to sack anyway, i.e. because they are too old, too expensive or just to reduce staff to save money. The young network administrator worked in that company for about 19 years. That means he was employed, when there were not enough network administrators on the job market and those administrators got good wages to stay with their employer. Nowadays you can employ young administrators for the half of the wage of an old one (old one means: over 40 years old).
11:48 September 2, 2010 by tallady
I also have to agree with PURUFROC, publish the name of this scrooge firm.

At least he was green.
12:16 September 2, 2010 by MonkeyMania
Jeez yeah! I also charge my mobile phone at work. Better stop this thieving practice straight away. Must be costing the company as much as 2 or 3 cents a year with my re-charging. Then again, I will also stop my practice of being 10 minutes a day early to work and usually not leaving for at least 5 or 10 minutes at the end of the day. Also, when they want to contact me on my phone during off duty hours, I will have the phone turned off to save the recharging costs. ;)
12:30 September 2, 2010 by AirForceGuy
I too agree with Purfrock. Since the Germans are notorious for their detailed recordkeeping, it shouldn't be too hard for some investigative reporter to find out who this company is and expose them for their foolish ways.
12:53 September 2, 2010 by freechoice
hopefully that is not a petroleum related company!
13:10 September 2, 2010 by michael4096
Pedantry warning: generally, the company doesn't need to do this to get rid of the guy unless he is on the worker's council (internal union). However, if they simply fire him they must compensate him which could get expensive, think 3 to 4 years salary after 19 years, 'cos he isn't likely to find another job so easy.

So naming and shaming is better than nothing, but I think the guy would rather have the money.
13:20 September 2, 2010 by MonkeyMania

If they fire him for theft, they do not have to pay him anything even if he is on the "Betriebsrat" Workers Council. That is the whole scandal including the Kaiser's employee scandal. Employers finding a way of getting rid of an expensive employee without having to pay them off simply to re-hire a cheaper employee on a short term contract.
02:39 September 3, 2010 by vonSchwerin
How many of us charge our cell phones at the office? Make personal calls from the office telephone? Make personal photocopies? We're all in danger of being sacked!
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