Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Worker fired for throwing shovel was unjustifiably dismissed

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A man who was fired after throwing a shovel at someone and sending an abusive text to coworkers was unjustifiably dismissed, the Employment Relations Authority says.

Brendan Turner, whose employment was terminated from labour supply operations company Burnswick Grange Partnership last August, won his case after it was found his former bosses did not follow correct protocols when dealing with complaints against him.

According to Authority member Michael Loftus' determination, Mr Turner's dismissal stemmed from two incidents which were documented by the company.

However, there were also several complaints against Mr Turner - who has anger management problems and was on medication affecting his mood at the time - which were not raised with the employee when they occurred, the determination said.

The first incident relevant to Burnswick's decision to fire Mr Turner occurred last June when he kicked one of his colleagues after being tapped on the shoulder from behind.

The second incident occurred about two months later, and resulted in Mr Turner verbally abusing one of his colleagues after the man gave him instructions regarding the operation of a modified piece of machinery.

As a result of this incident, Mr Turner was banned from one of the sites Burnswick provided services to. He also sent an abusive expletive-laden text to one of the men telling him to watch his back.

The determination said there had been another incident in which Mr Turner had thrown a shovel at someone after losing his temper, and at least five other staff members had complained about his behaviour.

Because these incidents were never followed up, they were not considered relevant to his dismissal.

While Mr Turner acknowledged his behaviour had been bad throughout his employment, Mr Loftus said Burnswick's failure to discuss his behaviour and any alternative employment options could not be excused.

He ordered Burnswick to pay Mr Turner $2577.54 as recompense for lost wages.


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