Director battles online retailer over unfair dismissal allegations

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Director battles online retailer over unfair dismissal allegations

Digital Skies Group, the company behind online retailers Android Enjoyed and CameraSky, is fighting an unfair dismissal allegation that was taken to the Fair Work Commission by its former director Christopher Harding.

Harding, who joined the company in November 2013, was its sole director until September last year, and a shareholder with 25 percent ownership. Other shareholders at the time of the dismissal were Sze Lok Chan, Ching Man Fong and Mr Wong, all three holding 25 percent each.

In October, Harding approached the Fair Work Commission in regards to his dismissal. Digital Skies Group filed a response claiming Harding earned more than the high income threshold (HIT) and was not protected from unfair dismissal.

In December 2015, Harding received legal advice about a potential conflict of interest being a sole director and an employee of Digital Skies Group. In February 2016, he amended his annual remuneration from $140,000 to $120,000. The amendment was backdated to 22 November 2013.

According to the Fair Work Commission hearing documents, Harding made himself an employee, however there is no evidence to suggest that the company agreed to make Harding a director, an employee or enter the salary amendment.

A spokesperson for Digital Skies Group told CRN: "Harding created an agreement by himself, without recording in company minutes and making it known to reward himself an unauthorised $140,000 annual wage."

After his dismissal Hung Pam Lee became the sole director of the group.

In April 2017, the Commission requested Digital Skies' minutes book, in particular, the minutes of all proceedings and resolutions of directors' meetings when Harding was the sole director of the company. 

Harding advised that he was unable to produce the minutes book of Digital Skies Group because "the majority of the documents left in his possession by [the company] have been disposed of". 

Later, Harding agreed that his remuneration was the amount he was actually paid, totaling $55,000 per annum, which Digital Skies Group claimed from the beginning.

The HIT jurisdictional objection was dismissed. A hearing in relation to the jurisdictional objection that the dismissal was consistent with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code will be scheduled.

"Harding had no choice and could only agree that has was indeed compensated correctly. The company will continue to fight Mr Harding over his false allegations at all costs," the spokesperson added.

CRN contacted Harding for comment but did not receive a response at the time of writing.

Digital Skies Group was warned by NSW Fair Trading last year of several complaints received by customers in regards to the quality and shipment of goods purchased through the group's online stores.

The online reseller told CRN that it has successfully completed all requests from the NSWFT.

"We have submitted the undertaking and we are now just waiting for the final signature from the ombudsman. Once that happens they will put out a press statement explaining we are back in good standing with them," the spokesperson told CRN.

The company said it also worked to solve all complaints received and that all operations and communications are compliant with Australian Consumer Law and ISO 10002:2014.

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