Sacked Carshalton worker given backing from top e-cigarette firm in landmark case against Viridor in Croydon
A worker who claims he was sacked for smoking an electronic cigarette has been given legal aid from one of the industry’s top manufacturers in his landmark case for wrongful dismissal.
Paul Scott, of Carshalton, was fired from Viridor, the waste disposal company that collects Croydon's waste, in October after he was spotted smoking a cigarette when he was operating a truck at the Beddington Lane site where he worked.
Mr Scott says he was smoking an E-Lites e-cigarette, something he thought he was allowed to do, but Viridor say Mr Scott was smoking a tobacco cigarette.
E-Lites, one of the industry's main brands, has vowed to support Mr Scott if the case goes to an employment tribunal.
Viridor said a robust investigation was carried out which concluded Mr Scott was in breach of company policies and was dismissed as a result.
The 55-year-old has worked at the company since 2007 and has filed a claim for unfair dismissal.
His appeal against dismissal is being heard on Friday by a Viridor panel and if unsuccessful, Mr Scott will take the case to an employment tribunal.
It is understood to be the first time a case involving dismissal for smoking an e-cigarette will have gone to a tribunal.
E-cigarette manufacturer E-lites will pay for his legal costs and employ leading barrister Paul Diamond, who has successfully won several high profile cases including a recent victory in the European Court of Justice, to act on behalf of Mr Scott.
Adrian Everett, CEO of E-Lites, said: "We are delighted to fight for the rights of our customers. It’s not surprising what has happened to Paul Scott.
"Companies like Viridor have failed to create policies around e-cigarettes and so haven’t trained their managers to tell the difference between an electronic cigarette with a glowing green tip and a combustible cigarette which creates a fire risk."
The trade union UNITE have also been critical of Viridor’s decision to sack Mr Scott and Onay Kasab, the union’s regional officer, said he hopes common sense prevails and the decision is overturned.
Mr Kasab did not rule out members balloting for strike action if the appeal was not successful.
Simon Catford, sustainability and regulatory director at Viridor, said Mr Scott was already on a final written warning and was seen to be smoking a tobacco cigarette in a vehicle next to highly flammable material.
He said: "Viridor has liaised closely with colleagues on site to explain the facts of this case which centre not on e-cigarettes, but on a previously disciplined employee smoking tobacco adjacent to highly combustible material."
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