Nanny accused of swearing in front of children unfairly dismissed

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A nanny who was fired after the five children she looked after claimed she swore in front of them and drove too fast has been awarded almost $6000 for unfair dismissal.

In an Employment Relations Authority ruling, member Michael Loftus sided with Kate Fisher, who was dismissed in June 2011 by the children's mother Carrie O'Brien.

She had been working as a casual nanny on an "when-required" basis for Ms O'Brien but claimed it was a committed, ongoing arrangement - a point Ms O'Brien disputed.

Ms Fisher worked three or four afternoons a week for the Wanaka family and later took up cleaning duties to earn more money.

However, problems started when the children started complaining "about the way Ms Fisher drove and alleging she swore in their presence", said the ERA finding.

Ms Fisher denied swearing at the children when questioned by their mother.

Later, at a family meeting involving Ms Fisher, her employer said she told Ms Fisher it was "scary to speed".

The final incident occurred on June 22, 2011 when Ms Fisher was caring for the five children along with three others while the O'Briens went to dinner with friends.

"There was some discord which led to both Ms Fisher and one of the children telephoning Ms O'Brien during dinner expressing their discontent," said the finding.

The next morning Ms O'Brien texted Ms Fisher saying the employment arrangement could not continue because it was too hard. She told the ERA she thought she could end the employment in this way because she believed it was a casual arrangement.

However, Mr Loftus concluded Ms Fisher had an ongoing employment relationship with Ms O'Brien "which means the decision to terminate was a dismissal" so she was required to justify her decision.

Ms Fisher was unfairly dismissed because her employer didn't discuss the issues with her and there was no attempt to find out what happened or why the decision to dismiss was made, Mr Loftus found.

He ordered Ms O'Brien to pay Ms Fisher $1779 in lost wages and $4000 as compensation for humiliation and hurt feelings.

- APNZ

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