Technological sacking: a legal absence of ethics?

by Chloe Taylor28 Oct 2014
Food manufacturer Kellogg’s is facing a backlash over its decision to terminate the employment of an employee due to him being ‘medically unfit’ to perform his duties via email.

Scott McAtamney, who worked as a sales rep for Kellogg’s for seven years, sustained horiffic injuries while travelling for the company during work. He was left with brain damage, 10 broken bones and claims his epilepsy returned as a result of the crash.

He also suffered post-traumatic stress as a result of the incident, but returned to work after six months’ leave despite doctors warning that it was too soon.

However, as a consequence of McAtamney becoming too panicked by being on the roads to work, Kellogg’s ended his employment based on ‘medical grounds’. The company chose the controversial method of informing McAtamney of his termination by email.

“A meeting was held with Scott and his manager in presence, together with a member of our HR team and our sales team on phone conference from Sydney to discuss ending his employment with Kellogg,” Derek Lau, a spokesperson for Kellogg’s told HC. “Scott made it clear post the meeting he didn’t want to have any further conversations with Kellogg. We were not able to get in touch with him in subsequent attempts. As a last resort the termination letter was sent via email.”

Following the termination, McAtamney receive four weeks’ pay from the company, as well as ‘any remaining annual leave entitlements’, The Daily Mail reported.
Until he is fit to work again, McAtamney is receiving 75% of his former wage, which is being covered by WorkCover Queensland.

“'This was a complicated issue as a valued staff member had suffered terrible injuries in a car accident,” a Kellogg’s spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia. “The company has been working with Scott in this period and we believe we have taken a reasonable and considered approach. Over the past 18 months, Kellogg had facilitated Scott’s return to his role with reduced responsibilities and working hours. As soon as Scott was able to drive again, a replacement vehicle was provided to him.”

The spokesperson added that Scott remained unfit to work due to his health, and that it is “highly unlikely he’ll be able to return to work anytime soon.”

"With this in mind, Kellogg had made the difficult decision to end Scott’s employment,” the spokesperson explained. “WorkCover is continuing to provide Scott with support, which includes medical and financial support, as well as re-training options.”

McAtamney admitted that Kellogg’s had not done anything illegal by terminating his employment, but expressed anger over their handling of it. 


  • by Amanda Rochford 28/10/2014 12:27:03 PM

    Absolutely!! and it shouldnt need an explanation as to why. Kellogg's should be ashamed of themselves. This complete lack of empathy for a valuable employee must stand as a warning to how much value the organisation will place on the health of its customers. I choose to financially boycott Kelloggs from now on.

  • by Scott mcatamney 28/10/2014 6:21:55 PM

    My name is Scott McAtamney I am the person involved in this story . I just want to clarify a couple of things mentioned in this column . Not at any stage did I advise Kellogg's that I did not wish to talk to them further and not once did they call me or try to call me as they state after our last phone link up . I they want to prove me wrong they can easily obtain phone records to do this and surely they would have left a phone message If they want to say that they hung up before it went to message bank and didn't register as a call. They also have my company phone which was returned to check records. To say that sending an email to sack me was as a last resort is a further insult .

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