Employment Law
Employment Law

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A woman was unjustifiably dismissed from her job as a hospitality supervisor after sharing beer and vodka with her trainees.

In an Employment Relations Authority decision last month it was found that there was “substantive justification” for dismissing her but found the process for dismissal was flawed. She has been awarded $1000.

Frances Hall was employed by the Taumarunui Christian Education Trust as a junior supervisor at The Training Cafe, a place for trainees referred by Winz to learn basic hospitality skills.

In late December 2015 a local known as “Grunter” went to the cafe to pick up pig scraps. As a Christmas gift, he dropped off some beer for the staff. According to the ERA decision, Hall asked a trainee to pour a beer into a takeaway cup to give to Grunter and later divided the beer among the staff.

In a second incident two months later, Hall and her partner drove to the cafe on her day off. She brought with her a bottle of vodka and placed shot glasses on the dashboard of the car. Two trainees came out to the car and asked if they could have a shot, which Hall’s partner gave to them.

Hall’s contract forbade drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

The two incidents went unnoticed or reported until a chairperson of the Trust began investigating allegations Hall made about an employee bringing marijuana to work.

The chairperson found out about the beer and vodka incidents during a disciplinary meeting with the staff member at the centre of the marijuana allegations and began investigating Hall.

Later that month, the chairperson told Hall she was suspended with pay while the investigation was carried out. Hall was fired just over a week later.

The ERA found that the process of her dismissal was unfair. Hall was suspended without a chance to respond to the allegations. The Trust also failed to provide Hall with statements from staff members meaning she could not respond meaningfully to their claims. The ERA awarded her $2000 which they reduced by 50 per cent for her contributory conduct.

Hall did not respond to request for comment by time of publication. The Taumarunui Christian Education Trust could not be reached.

Published on Thursday, March 24th, 2016, under Blog

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