Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

Fraud accused staffer awarded $41,500

The employee had worked for Alpha Laboratories for 15 years before being unjustifiably dismissed. Photo / Getty
The employee had worked for Alpha Laboratories for 15 years before being unjustifiably dismissed. Photo / Getty

A woman has been awarded $41,500 after being wrongly accused of fraudulently filling out documents by her employer.

Kim La worked for Alpha Laboratories for 15 years before she was unjustifiably dismissed from her senior position with the company.

She took a claim of unfair dismissal to the Employment Relation Authority and, in a decision released this week, was awarded $41,500 in lost wages and compensation.

La was fired from Alpha in April 2015 after a disciplinary process which the Authority decided was flawed.

In 2014 La was promoted to a senior role with the company and was soon after issued a formal warning due to criticisms of her performance.

In early 2015 Alpha was the subject of a Medsafe audit and La was tasked with the job of updating the training levels of staff within the company's system.

At the same time, La's mother was terminally ill and she requested sick leave. La was told that it was critical that she attended work because of the audit.

The week after her mother died La asked employees to check and sign their training records. These training records formed the basis of the claim of serious misconduct against her. The company claimed La has fraudulently signed the documents.

Member of the Authority Anna Fitzgibbon said La had not falsely certified any training that had been completed by employees.

"Alpha did not have the supporting evidence to find that Ms La had been fraudulent and dishonest," Fitzgibbon said.

The training records were incomplete and La had signed off the records after asking employees to check their own records, Fitzgibbon said.

"There was no deceit or dishonesty, the training had been completed and Ms La sought confirmation from employees of the details of their training so that the records were correct for the audit. Ms La subsequently dated the records. This was not ideal but explicable in view of the MEDSAFE audit, [her boss's] instructions and Ms La's mother's illness and death."

La told the Authority she was not sleeping after the death of her mother and was worried about money after being dismissed while also caring for her unwell father. She was awarded $15,000 compensation and $36,500 in lost wages.

Read the full decision here:

- NZ Herald

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