Dumped Fuji Xerox managing director fights to get job back

Gavin Pollard claims he's been made a scapegoat by the Japanese parent.

Sacked Fuji Xerox New Zealand managing director Gavin Pollard claims he's been made a scapegoat by the Japanese parent over the unit's dodgy accounting and overpayment of sales commissions and is fighting to get his job back.

Mr Pollard's bid for an interim reinstatement ahead of a full hearing in the Employment Relations Authority was turned down by authority member Vicki Campbell in a recently published September 4 determination. Ms Campbell found there's an arguable case Pollard was unjustifiably dismissed but the case for permanent reinstatement was weak and the balance of convenience was against an interim return "given the lack of trust and confidence held in him by senior executives (with whom he will be required to work closely) and the shareholders of FXNZ."

A substantive hearing will be held next month, and Ms Campbell was satisfied Fuji Xerox was in a position to pay any compensation if Pollard was successful.

Mr Pollard had been Fuji Xerox New Zealand's general manager of national sales operations between 2012 and 2015 before he was appointed to the managing director role in April 2015, replacing Neil Whittaker who had shifted to Australia.

Not long after his promotion, the Japanese parent was alerted by a whisteblower to inappropriate accounting practices at the New Zealand unit, which were confirmed by an independent audit that identified possible fraud that took place when Mr Pollard was part of the executive team as GM sales.

Fuji Xerox accused Mr Pollard of serious misconduct by breaching internal policies and participating in inappropriate accounting practices in five client deals, being a key decision maker between April 2015 and June 2015 in amending a number of deals to avoid a material impact on revenue, approving a $305,000 overstatement of revenue in 2015, signing off on inflated target volumes, approving deals that led to significant losses, and failing to reimburse some $22,000 of overpaid commissions, and dismissed him after a disciplinary meeting in July 2017.

Mr Pollard claims he was unjustifiably dismissed, saying there were "serious deficiencies in the process used by FXNZ to reach its conclusions that dismissal was an appropriate penalty" and didn't account for "the disparate treatment Mr Pollard received compared to Mr Whittaker and Mark Allright (the former chief financial officer)," whose recommendations he said he'd followed in approving the deals. He claimed he'd been dismissed for decisions outside his control and a perceived close relationship with Mr Whittaker.

"Mr Pollard says he was treated disparately from Mr Whittaker who was able to enter into an agreement with Fuji Japan to leave the organisation with a significant payout," the decision said. "He says he was the 'last man standing' and became a scapegoat given that both Mr Whittaker and Mr Allright had already left Fuji Xerox at the time the report was released."

Mr Pollard said his reputation would be undermined if he wasn't returned on an interim basis and that as the sole earner he had to take out an overdraft to meet his bills.

That didn't sway Ms Campbell, given Mr Pollard had been identified in the scrutiny of the issue, which she said had probably "already tainted Mr Pollard's reputation" and that Fuji Xerox's lifting of a one-year restraint of working in the industry would mean he could seek alternative employment.

Read the full judgment here.

(BusinessDesk)

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