Cape businessman fired after naked encounter

12 November 2017 - 00:02 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Mark Mulholland admitted to damaging linen and towels at a Paarl guesthouse and not paying for his girlfriend's overnight stay.
Mark Mulholland admitted to damaging linen and towels at a Paarl guesthouse and not paying for his girlfriend's overnight stay.
Image: 123RF/ Jozef Polc

A "saucy" naked encounter with a waitress contributed to a Cape Town businessman being fired from his R200,000-a-month job after less than a month.

Details of Mark Mulholland's behaviour during a training trip to Germany emerged during an acrimonious Labour Court battle with his former employer, Doehler South Africa, which fired him on the spot in Germany - and again after he returned.

Mulholland failed to compel the Paarl company, a subsidiary of a German food-flavouring company, to pay him a R1.84-million bonus after he was fired as general manager for a litany of misdemeanours.

They included trashing a hotel room, failing to pay for private phone calls, crashing a rented car, not returning a GPS device and sexually harassing a German waitress by answering his door naked.

NOT PAYING FOR GIRLFRIEND

Court documents say that on top of his offences in Germany, Mulholland also admitted damaging linen and towels at a Paarl guesthouse and not paying for his girlfriend's overnight stay.

Mulholland appealed to the Labour Court in Cape Town after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration threw out his unfair dismissal claim.

A statement handed into court from a waitress at the Ramada hotel, in Darmstadt, said he had been drinking at the bar in May 2016 before retiring. He then called for room service. "When shortly afterwards I brought the room service to the room, Mr Mulholland opened the door," she said. "His genital area was only covered by towel. He took the tray and ordered additional sauces for his dish.

"A few minutes later I brought this order to the room as well and knocked. This time, Mr Mulholland opened the door completely naked. I felt sexually harassed by the fact that he opened the door presenting his naked body." The hotel kicked Mulholland out and notified his employer.

Zomerlust Guesthouse manager Oumie du Toit's statement to court said she approached Doehler South Africa in June 2016 after Mulholland - who is director of the Mother's Ruin Gin Bar in central Cape Town - failed to settle his girlfriend's bill or pay for damage he caused.

His genital area was only covered by towel. He took the tray and ordered additional sauces for his dish.
Waitress

"The bedding was stained and [cleaning staff] found blood on towels, furniture and in the bathroom," said Du Toit. "Mr Mulholland and his female guest left our premises without informing anyone about the condition they left the room. Our girls were shocked."

In an affidavit, Mulholland, 42, said: "Whatever transgressions I may have admitted to in the disciplinary hearing ... did not constitute misconduct, and in any event not misconduct which justified my dismissal nor the loss of my notice claim."

Judge Anton Steenkamp dismissed his application this month and ordered him to pay Doehler's costs.

ROOM IN CHAOTIC ORDER

Mulholland was employed by Doehler in May last year and went to Germany for training with his supervisor, Kurt Hufnagel. "Within a week of his arrival, Hufnagel dismissed Mulholland after he had left his hotel room in a chaotic state, including leaving cigarette burn marks on the furniture of the non-smoking room," said the judgment.

"He left the hotel by a back entrance without settling his bill for extras such as extensive [and expensive] telephone calls.

"He returned to the airport, returning a rental car [paid for by the company] without notifying the car rental company of damage he caused to the car by bumping into a column in the hotel parking garage, and without returning one of two GPS devices. It also transpired that he was driving the rental car without a driver's licence."

Mulholland, who defended himself during a disciplinary hearing, did not dispute the damage to his room but claimed a burglar might have caused the burn marks.

"With regard to the state of the room, bedding and towels at Zomerlust, he acknowledged that his girlfriend had spent the night with him but claimed that he thought that the room rate was a flat rate, regardless of the number of occupants," the judgment reads.

Mulholland's Instagram account, which shows that he also works as a model, revealed that he was in Norway this week. He did not respond to Sunday Times inquiries.

His lawyer, Sean O'Dowd, said: "I haven't read the judgment yet. I haven't got a copy. I can't answer your question." Doehler lawyer Glen Cassells also did not respond, and Du Toit declined to comment.

nombembep@sundaytimes.co.za

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