By Pete Swingler
A semi-professional rugby player has won an unfair dismissal claim against a multi-millionaire stalwart of the Birmingham Post Rich List who previously employed him.
Jack Wells, who is a hooker for the Newport Rugby Club of Shropshire, was employed by the firm of Jonathan Kendrick, from Wolverhampton, for gardening on his estate and to chauffeur his cars, Birmingham Employment Tribunal was told.
But Mr Wells, aged 27, of Chetwynd, Newport, whose team play in the National League, complained he lost his job following an injury during a rugby match which meant he could not work.
He sought compensation for unfair dismissal against Mr Kendrick, trading as ROK Global.
Mr Kendrick’s £330 million fortune earned him 25th place on the 2013 Birmingham Post Rich List after making his millions selling mobile phones.
Mr Wells said he initially successfully applied for the job of gardener and agreed to do other jobs, including chauffeuring Mr Kendrick’s cars and washing and walking the dog.
However, he sustained a knee ligament injury while playing for Newport and was off work for six weeks.
He complained that he was eventually dismissed because he was not fit enough to work.
The respondents opposed Mr Wells’ compensation claim and denied he had been dismissed because of his injury. They said he had been employed by ROK and made redundant because there was no longer enough work for him to do.
The tribunal was told that Mr Kendrick was proposing to re-locate to the USA anyway.
The respondents described Mr Kendrick as a very generous man who had given Mr Wells a car and golf clubs.
They accused Mr Wells of “trying to get more money” and described Mr Wells’ motives as an “unpleasant thing to do.”
Tribunal judge Miss Victoria Dean said the tribunal decision was that Mr Wells had been dismissed because his injury caused him to be off work for six weeks.
But she said that although Mr Wells had been unfairly dismissed he would have eventually lost his job anyway because of the proposed move to the USA and because there was not enough work for him to do.
She said, however, Mr Wells was entitled to £3,860 in pay losses.
Mr Kendrick founded the Albrighton-based ROK Entertainment Group eight years ago and it goes from strength to strength. With mobile phone streaming products available to more than 700 million mobile phone users worldwide, ROK is continuing its serious assault on the US market.
It was listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2010 and sells in the US through ROK Americas.