A Sydney train station manager has lost his appeal against his sacking by RailCorp for taking medical leave to play poker. The NSW Transport Appeals Board found that John Maklouf had repeatedly called in sick for work so he could play poker around Australia and even in the Philippines.
Maklouf has a number of results in the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT) including a second place in the AUD $2200 ANZPT Main Event for AUD $60,635. A RailCorp employee for 15 years, Maklouf was found to have taken 17 days sick leave from August to November 2010 while obtaining medical certificates for “hip pain” and “stress”. His bosses reportedly warned him for his absenteeism and, when they became suspicious, Googled his name and saw his poker results coincided with his sick days.
In his appeal against the sacking, Maklouf said his job at a Sydney train station was highly stressful and that poker “provided a release” and made him “feel good” about himself.
It seems that his ‘poker therapy’ defence didn’t fly with the appeals board when they handed down their judgment: “Frankly the board is amazed that Mr Maklouf considered that it was OK to go off sick and attend poker tournaments when he had been advised by his doctor (based on what he told the doctor) that he was unfit for duty, yet he considered that he was fit enough to fly and compete in what must be a highly charged and competitive environment playing for potentially serious financial reward.”
Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald.
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