Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

Trans hairdresser Dakota Hemmingson still waiting for her money

Dakota Hemmingson hasn't received any money from her former employer, who was ordered to pay her $13,000 after she was forced out her job. Photo / Facebook
Dakota Hemmingson hasn't received any money from her former employer, who was ordered to pay her $13,000 after she was forced out her job. Photo / Facebook

A transgender hairdresser who was awarded nearly $15,000 by the Employment Relations Authority after being forced out her job still hasn't seen any of the money, and she's not alone.

Dakota Hemmingson was employed by Matt Swan at hair salon Barker's Groom Room in Auckland for six weeks until she left the job on April 14, 2015. The salon operated independently of the Barkers clothing store.

In June the ERA found she was forced out of her job when she explained to Swan that she would transition to living as a woman.

Are you waiting for payment awarded to you by the ERA? Email the Herald

The Authority awarded Hemmingson $11,000 in compensation, $3248 and $500 towards her legal costs, but she has not seen any of the money and her legal advocate Nathan Santesso is now filing an application for a Compliance Order in the Authority for payment to be made.

Hemmingson said she was struggling with the stress of the situation.

"It's awful... he has control of the situation.

"The reality is if he can't afford it I have to deal with him forever. I might have to deal with him for four to seven years."

It has been 15 months since the hearing was held, and Hemmingson wants to move on.

She said she would advise other people pursuing an employment dispute in the ERA to have "mental preparation" for the years the dispute can run on for.

"It would be so much nicer if I had an apology, I still have never had an apology."

When contacted by the Herald Matt Swan said he intended on making "reparations" to Hemmingson. He said confidential negotiations were underway and directed questions to his lawyer. His lawyer did not respond to request for comment.

• Auckland woman Anna Faulls is another worker still waiting for payment awarded to her by the ERA.

She was awarded $13,000 in October, 2015 after she was dismissed from her job as a bartender at Italia Square, Parnell after nine days employment in 2014.

The company that employed her was ordered to pay the money, but has since closed its doors and Faulls said she didn't think she would ever see the money owed to her.

"All we can do is hope that [her former employer] is honest, and hope they pay up. I can't pursue him through any collection agencies because he doesn't have a place of work and he wasn't held personally liable.

"It's difficult. For the amount of stress it put me through I probably wouldn't do it again.

Employment law advocate Santesso said he was satisfied with how the system works as a whole.

"You've got to consider who you're agreeing to work for. I understand that beggars can't be choosers to some extent, but you might want to consider who is employing you."

He said every lawyer or advocate must explain the length of time cases can take to be heard by the ERA and the possibility of ongoing hearings to obtain payments ordered.

- NZ Herald

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