Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Banker unfairly fired for 'hey sxy' message

Photo / File
Photo / File

A married ASB bank manager who was dismissed after messaging "hey sxy" to a staff member had his $110,000 compensation cut to $11,000 because of his behaviour.

Andre Nel had been working at ASB Bank for 18 years and was working as a senior commercial manager when he was dismissed in October 2015 for serious misconduct.

Nel took a claim of unjustified dismissal to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) saying ASB had breached its obligations towards him.

The woman, identified as Ms A, began working directly for Nel in September 2015, at which time she said they had a good working relationship. Both parties were married at the time.

Ms A told the ERA Nel had often made personal comments to her including comments on her appearance and referring to her as "sweetheart" and saying she was "stunning".

Over the next few months this continued and on September 4 2015, Nel messaged Ms A on Facebook telling her he loved her.

"Hey Sxy, just want to get the elephant out if the room... I'm head over heels for you and have been since the first time I saw you. I'm an old fart who loves you and who just wants the best for you," he said.

"Oh f... this is just crazy but need to get it off of my chest as it's been killing me! Sorry for spilling my guts! I know you don't care but at least I can move on now. I did what I never ever thought I would do ever in my LIFE!"

Ms A responded by saying she saw him as a good friend and nothing more and hoped it would not affect their working relationship.

She also said she felt uncomfortable and did not want to speak about it again. Following this, Ms A said Nel continued to pursue her at which time, other members of staff were brought in to help deal with the situation.

ASB managers involved in the situation said they were aware of at least three other employees that had similar concerns relating to aggressive behaviour and inappropriate language and comments from Nel.

Following an investigation and meeting process, the bank dismissed Nel.

The ERA ruled ASB had not breached its duty of good faith to Nel, but said it had unjustifiably dismissed him.

The ERA said Nel had no previous disciplinary action at the bank and ASB believed Ms A had accepted his apology and moved on.

The ERA ordered the bank to pay lost wages of $95,455.68 and $15,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation.

Despite awarding more than $110,000 to Nel, the ERA said it found his behaviour had contributed to the outcome and reduced the payment ruling by 90 per cent, ordering the bank to pay $11,000 to him.

* The applicant in this case, Andre Nel, should not be confused with a current ASB employee of the same name.

Read the full decision here:

- NZ Herald

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