German firm can't fire man for 1.8 cent theft

Thu Sep 2, 2010 3:18pm EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A German company that fired a man for the theft of 1.8 euro cents (two U.S. cents) worth of electricity had no grounds for sacking him, a court ruled, dismissing the firm's appeal against his reinstatement.

Network administrator Oliver Beel lost his job after charging his Segway, a two-wheeled electric vehicle, at work in May 2009. After he connected the vehicle to the firm's power source for 1-1/2 hours, his boss asked him to remove it.

Twelve days later Beel found himself without a job.

The court ruled that dismissal was disproportionate to the offence, especially given the "minimal electricity cost involved, the plaintiff's 19-year employment by the company and the fact other employees charged mobile phones and digital photo frames at the firm's expense without punishment."

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Peter Graff)