Sacked bar manager gets $17,000

By Cassandra Mason

Upturned glasses at a pub counter
Upturned glasses at a pub counter

A woman who was unfairly sacked from her job as a Hawke's Bay bar manager has been awarded more than $17,000 in compensation and lost wages.

Lina Ngametua claimed she was unjustifiably dismissed from her job as bar manager at B&H Hawkes Bay Ltd's HB Sportz Bar on November 25, 2011, following two months of employment.

She was given a letter advising her of the decision, about which she was given no warning.

Mrs Ngametua claimed that she was paid less than the minimum wage of $13 an hour for working 65-hour weeks and had struggled to find work for months after her dismissal.

A deal made with her employer at the outset that would see her take home 10 per cent of the bar's takings also wasn't met, she said.

In a claim to the Employment Relations Authority, Mrs Ngametua sought $8000 compensation for the "humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings" plus reimbursement for three months' wages, wage arrears, holiday pay, interest and costs.

B&H director Brent Foster denied Mrs Ngametua's claims over the hours she had worked, saying they were "exaggerated".

He said the bar had been struggling financially and a decision had been taken to close it down at the end of the financial year.

Mr Foster said the verbal agreement to pay Mrs Ngametua 10 per cent had been for 10 per cent of profit, not turnover.

He also said B&H had no choice but to remove Mrs Ngametua from her position because, the weekend before her dismissal, she had threatened to close the business and call the police if a partner of the business was not removed from the building.

Authority member Trish MacKinnon found Mrs Ngametua was unjustifiably dismissed, and had been paid less than minimum wage for 15 out of 16 weeks of her employment.

She said that B&H "failed completely" to give its employee the benefit of a fair procedure before firing her.

B&H Hawkes Bay Ltd was ordered to pay Mrs Ngametua $6000 in compensation, $7368 in lost wages, $3592 in wages underpaid during her employment and $287 holiday pay.

The authority also ordered the company to pay Mrs Ngametua's legal costs and 5 per cent interest on underpaid wages.

Last week, Hastings businessman Kyle Clay was fined after sacking a worker by text message. He was ordered to pay more than $14,000 in lost wages and compensation.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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