Ex-Glencore Oil Trader Fired for Drinking Loses Lawsuit

An ex-Glencore Xstrata Plc trader who was fired for drinking too much lost a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the company, with a judge calling the case “ludicrous.”

Judge Richard Seymour in London said Andrew Kearns’s firing in 2010 “was richly justified.” Seymour had already dismissed a portion of the lawsuit over a share award valued at about $1.2 million and yesterday rejected the remaining wrongful-termination claim seeking about 12,000 pounds ($20,000).

Kearns, who earned about $500,000 a year “regularly consumed excessive amounts of alcohol,” which meant he was late for work or unable to function effectively, Seymour said in the written decision.

Kearns argued during the trial that Glencore’s claims weren’t true and that he had been doing his job by socializing with clients. He denied having an alcohol problem and said the company singled him out because of a disagreement with managers.

“I maintain that I was sacked as a scapegoat for the heavy losses incurred by other team members” in 2010, Kearns said in a statement. He said it was “ridiculous” to claim occasional heavy drinking and long lunches weren’t part of the job, and weren’t accepted within the industry.

Legal Costs

Kearns didn’t appear in the London courtroom to hear the ruling and is no longer represented by his legal team. He will have to pay Glencore’s legal costs of at least 150,000 pounds, the judge said.

Jonathan Cohen, a lawyer for Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore, said that Kearns was “dishonest in his evidence” and didn’t realize how much the company had tried to help him.

Cohen told the judge that when Glencore offered to help Kearns see an addiction expert, he responded by spending an afternoon in the pub.

At a 2010 industry conference in Singapore, Kearns drank at least eight beers and stayed out until 4.30 a.m. at the Brix Club, according to Seymour’s ruling. He slept until the early afternoon the following day and missed meetings.

Kearns testified he was with trading counterparties and had gained valuable business information during the evening.

Peter Grauer, the chairman of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is a non-executive director of Glencore Xstrata, the biggest listed commodities trader.

The case is Andrew Stephen Kearns v. Glencore UK Ltd., High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, HQ12X03294

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