SkyCity employee reinstated after high-roller mishap

Casino operator under fire for poor employment processes.

SkyCity was wrong to withhold documents from an employee it fired and unfairly took into account information that blamed him for a mishap involving a high roller at the casino, an Employment Court judge has found.

Keith Hayashi was reinstated as a SkyCity employee after the Employment Court found he was unjustifiability dismissed. The court found that there wasn’t a proper reason to dismiss him and the process was flawed.

According to the decision of judge Mark Perkins, shift manager Mr Hayashi was dismissed from the listed company following a misunderstanding about how to treat a high roller at the casino.

A high-value customer, known only as Mrs A, had lost between $9.5-12 million dollars through her gambling activities at the casino.

During Mr Hayashi’s shift, he misunderstood instructions about Mrs A’s betting limits, so he offered her a $300,000 refund she was not entitled to.

“Even though the belief that the betting limits had been reduced was erroneous, apparently there is a superstitious belief on the part of some gamblers that where unsettling circumstances occur such as arose in this case, the prospects of winning are believed to be reduced,” the judge wrote.

Upon learning of the error Mrs A exploited the chance to claim compensation even though she was probably not entitled to any under the strict playing rules.

“She was eventually paid compensation but this appears to have been paid on an ex gratia basis as a goodwill gesture to ensure as a valued client she did not become disaffected,” the decision says.

This led to SkyCity’s decision to fire Mr Hayashi but the court said it was wrong.

Unfair dismissal
The Employment Court says incorrect information was given to the chief executive, which incorrectly blamed Mr Hayashi.

“That led to his dismissal, which on any assessment of the facts was not the action a fair and reasonable employer could have taken in all the circumstances. In simple terms, it was unjust and unfair; it was an unreasonable response.

“The process adopted, while having the trappings of a formally fair procedure, had underlying flaws. These flaws arose from the managers who made the decision failing to properly and accurately assess the information which was before them and give proper weight to what Mr Hayashi was saying, and the further information which corroborated that."

A table games manager at the casino, who SkyCity allowed to participate in the disciplinary process later admitted that she, alongside others were “running for cover.”

The judge also says SkyCity didn’t properly disclose documents to Mr Hayashi’s legal team.

The court ruled SkyCity must reimburse Mr Hayashi for all his lost wages or salary and reinstate him. It also awarded him $25,0000 for hurt and humiliation, which the judge noted was a modest claim.

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