Waitress fired for serving boss wrong drink

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Jessica Chand was fired from the Japanese Steak House in New Plymouth for serving a company director the wrong drink. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Jessica Chand was fired from the Japanese Steak House in New Plymouth for serving a company director the wrong drink. Photo / Herald on Sunday

A New Plymouth waitress has been awarded more than $10,000 in lost wages and compensation after she was fired for serving her boss the wrong drink.

In its ruling, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) said Otaku Holdings acted in a way that was "grossly unfair" in dismissing Jessica Chand on September 17 last year.

Chand, who started working at the Japanese Steak House in New Plymouth on August 31, filed a personal grievance with the ERA on October 19.

On the evening of September 16 last year, a director of Otaku Holdings named Thomas Buckthought arrived at the restaurant for a late meal.

After difficulties with the service at his table involving another waitress, Chand took over responsibility for Buckthought's table.

Chand was later told by restaurant manager Niquay Langton that he had to dismiss two people, one being Chand, or he would be fired too.

Langton told the waitress she was losing her job for serving Buckthought the wrong drink.

Chand worked the next day and was fired after her shift.

In a letter dated September 28, the employer told Chand it relied upon the 12-week probation clause in her individual employment agreement, signed August 5.

Chand said when she received the letter she was confused because it contained no mention of a reason for her dismissal and referred only to the 90-day trial.

Because Otaku Holdings failed to file a statement on the matter or appear at an investigation meeting on May 15, the ERA accepted Chand's evidence that she was fired for pouring the wrong drink.

"The employer has not justified the dismissal and the grounds relied upon in regard to Ms Chand pouring the wrong drink," said the ERA ruling.

"Also, the employer failed to follow any process in regard to the dismissal."

The ERA concluded a manager from Otaku Holidings should have carried out an investigation into the complaint before the dismissal.

"It seems that the owner made the decision without any process, and imposed a decision on the manager to carry out dismissing somebody.

"That was grossly unfair. The employer did not raise the allegation of pouring the wrong drink with Ms Chand before dismissing her."

In its ruling, the ERA ordered Otaku Holdings Limited to pay Jessica Chand $6142.50 in lost wages.

It also ruled Chand was entitled to $4000 compensation for hurt and humiliation because of the dismissal.

"I accept her evidence that she was upset, that it caused her to cry and that it de-motivated her."

Otaku Holdings Limited was also told to pay the $71.56 filing fee incurred by Chand.

Chand was represented at the investigation meeting by Lars Hansen and Sara Frey.

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