Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Axed Breakfast host Rawdon Christie may have damages case

It's unclear whether Rawdon Christie will stay on while his Breakfast replacement is finalised. Photo / Jason Dorday
It's unclear whether Rawdon Christie will stay on while his Breakfast replacement is finalised. Photo / Jason Dorday

Broadcaster Rawdon Christie could have avenues to seek damages for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings after his public axing from Breakfast, a top employment lawyer says.

The Weekend Herald revealed last weekend Christie and co-host Nadine Chalmers-Ross had been told their time fronting the show was up.

They learned the news the previous day when called to a meeting with news boss John Gillespie.

The move came after months of speculation over the future of the show - initially ignited by Hilary Barry's resignation from MediaWorks in April.

It is believed Barry and Jack Tame will be announced as the new hosts of Breakfast as soon as this week - but they won't be on air together until next year.

Christie and Chalmers-Ross hosted the morning news show as usual last week despite being told they'd been dumped.

It is unclear whether the presenters will stay on until they are replaced but sources told the Herald it is thought Christie will be departing the station and Chalmers-Ross will be redeployed.

TVNZ has stayed silent about the axings and Christie and Chalmers-Ross have also declined to comment.

But the Herald on Sunday understands Christie is taking legal advice.

Jennifer Mills, head of national employment law practice at Anthony Harper, believed Christie could seek damages from the national broadcaster over the way the affair has been handled.

"Depending on the circumstances, Rawdon may be entitled to bring a personal grievance against TVNZ for unjustified disadvantage and ... unjustified dismissal," Mills said.

"A successful claim would then entitle him to claim for a range of remedies under the Employment Relations Act 2000, including damages for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings."

For damages to be awarded, the Employment Relations Authority must find TVNZ's actions were unjustified in some way, Mills said.

"This looks to whether a fair and reasonable employer could have acted in the same manner."

However, University of Auckland associate law professor Bill Hodge said an employment grievance being aired in public is rarely a good career move for television personalities.

"It is generally accepted one day you are a rooster, the next you are a feather duster."

- Herald on Sunday

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