A Whakatāne woman who was fired while on holiday has been awarded a big pay-out by the Employment Relations Authority.
Hoof Camp Saddlery has been ordered to fork out $15,000 to former employee Michelle Bradley, who was dismissed from her role while on her way home from a holiday in England with her partner.
The retail sales assistant was sitting in Singapore Airport on August 1, 2019 when she received a message from her boss, Kathryn Cook.
In a Facebook message, Cook told Bradley that there would not be any work for her when she returned.
Bradley said that she was shocked and upset when she got the message, which said that her hours had been given to another employee.
The message from Cook said business had been “fairly quiet” and that she is cutting stock down for a sale in September.
“Sorry but I won’t have any work available for you when you get back. Pop in and we can have a coffee and to tell me all about your trip.”
Bradley replied, saying that the news was a “really unpleasant” way to end the holiday.
Cook said the other employee who took up Bradley’s hours was keen to keep them and had “stepped up”.
Cook argued that Bradley’s employment was on a casual basis and as such, her work could be terminated, if there was no further work available.
Bradley said she was employed on a permanent part-time basis, and authority member Anna Fitzgibbon agreed.
At the same time, Cook, the sole director of the saddlery, said there were performance issues with Bradley’s work.
In an email to Bradley, she said she had given her a verbal warning regarding a customer complaint and that two “more serious” complaints had come in from customers while Bradley was away.
Cook said because of the performance issues and the casual basis of Bradley’s employment, she was justified in not keeping Bradley’s job for her.
In April 2019, Cook requested a meeting with Bradley to discuss performance issues.
However, Bradley was not aware that it was a disciplinary meeting and no warnings, verbal or written, were issued.
Bradley worked for the company from early August 2018 until August 1, 2019, the day she received the message.
The duo tried to resolve the issues in mediation sessions prior to the hearing, but the meetings were unsuccessful.
In the determination, Fitzgibbon said Cook could have informed Bradley at that time, that as she was a casual employee, there may or may not be work for her when she returned.
Fitzgibbon said the dismissal was unjustified, ordering Hoof Camp to pay $15,000 for “hurt and humiliation” within 21 days.
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