Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Worker sacked after five days gets $16k compo

A restaurant manager fired via text message after five days has won compensation. Photo / Thinkstock
A restaurant manager fired via text message after five days has won compensation. Photo / Thinkstock

A restaurant manager who was sacked by text message after working for just five days at an Auckland restaurant has been awarded $16,000 in lost wages and compensation.

An Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision said that Afano Fa'amoe was hired by Angela Nielsen, who owned Toby's Restaurant in Titirangi, on October 19, 2010 after a short trial period.

In the five days following her start date, Ms Fa'amoe said she received little support from Ms Nielsen and was treated rudely by the head chef.

She said the chef swore at her and was dismissive in his manner.

On October 24, Ms Fa'amoe received a text message from Ms Nielsen in which she said the conflict between her and the head chef was getting worse and her employment was not going to work.

Ms Nielsen said she was the "piggy in the middle".

Ms Fa'amoe attempted to contact Ms Nielsen that night several times, but her messages were not returned.

The next day, Ms Fa'amoe sent a text to Ms Nielsen asking if a resolution could be reached, but Ms Nielsen replied that the head chef and other staff were upset that the previous week had been a "battle zone".

A text later that morning from Ms Nielsen said Ms Fa'amoe should take another job she had been offered.

"Viv (the head chef) is not happy. The business needs him to produce food. End of story. At the end of the day it is all about the business."

The ERA found that Ms Fa'amoe had been unjustifiably dismissed.

"The manner in which she was treated was not what a fair and reasonable employer would have done in the circumstances."

It awarded Ms Fa'amoe three months lost wages of $13,000 because a sudden lack of confidence meant she did not go through with other job interviews.

She was also awarded $3000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to her feelings.

- APNZ

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