Employment hearing rejects manager's bullying claim

Photo / NZ Herlad
Photo / NZ Herlad

A sales manager who backed his boss into a corner while shouting and swearing has failed to convince the Employment Relations Authority he was himself a victim of workplace bullying.

Kane Burton-Brown was employed by Eco Insulation from March 2008 until the company changed hands in April 2009.

He claims the previous owners, Warren Russell and wife Monique Russell-Groothuis, failed to pay him his full commission, breached good faith and unjustifiably disadvantaged him in his work.

He took his case to the ERA, seeking $5900 in outstanding commission payments, more than $3000 in pay and $5000 compensation for a personal grievance.

Mr Burton-Brown told the authority he felt "bullied and intimated" by Mr Russell when he took issue with his commission entitlement, and felt as if he had no option but to "shut up and take it".

But the ERA found it may have been Mr Burton-Brown who used intimidating behaviour, citing a clash with Mrs Russell-Groothuis over a pay deduction.

She told the ERA he came to the office and started shouting and swearing.

"I was very scared and I did not know how to handle his behaviour ... I was distraught after Kane left; he had literally backed me up in a corner of the office which was bloody scary."

Mr Russell persuaded his wife not to call police over the incident.

He then called Mr Burton-Brown, who "had a go at me too, swearing and making threats as he was upset about the deduction of the $900 from his pay". The money was paid within the next day or so.

The ERA found there was no merit to Mr Burton-Brown's claim that he was not paid his full commission. It also dismissed his claims of unjustified disadvantage and personal grievance.

- APNZ

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