A Maori Television newsreader who was banned from taking part in protests and whose gay partner was referred to as a "dyke" by a senior MTS manager has been awarded $16,000.
The Employment Relations Authority ruled that Ngarimu Daniels, presenter of the station's nightly Te Kaea news programme, had suffered shame, embarrassment and general distress and anxiety as a result of "unjustified action" by MTS.
Problems began in November when Daniels took part in a protest outside Prime Minister Helen Clark's Mt Albert electorate office.
A senior MTS news manager told Daniels the next day that her employment would be jeopardised if she took part in "protest meetings".
Tawini Rangihau, the news and current affairs chief, expressed concern that the presence of Daniels at the protest would jeopardise Government funding of the fledgling station.
Employment Relations Authority member Alastair Dumbleton said the incident was the "spark for a succession of other problems" between Daniels and MTS.
In January, the format of Te Kaea was changed from two presenters to one while Daniels was on holiday in Australia. She was not consulted about the change or told about it when she got back.
When she approached Ms Rangihau, "this quickly led to a scene with raised voices", Mr Dumbleton said.
That same month, Ms Rangihau referred to Daniels' gay partner, an MTS director, as "that dyke Leonie" who was " ... ing up Ngarimu".
Dr Leonie Pihama, a University of Auckland education lecturer and author, was a founding member of the channel's board until her resignation last month.
The remarks were made to another staff member as MTS employees gathered at a bar after work, and later reported in the Herald on Sunday.
Dr Pihama was reportedly furious. Ms Rangihau apologised, but the apology was not accepted by Daniels.
The authority found the remarks were deeply offensive to the pair and "denigrated Ms Daniels with regard to her sexual orientation, family status, intelligence, honesty and integrity".
The remarks implied Dr Pihama was "sexually perverse" and had exploited and controlled Daniels and that the pair had no regard for the separation of their roles as presenter and board director.
During the grievance case, MTS asserted that the relationship between the pair was "problematic".
Mr Dumbleton ruled the station knew of it before Daniels was hired and the problem was of MTS' own making.
Daniels still works at MTS and the authority believed "in time" the employment relationship between Ms Rangihau and Daniels would be repaired.
Mr Dumbleton said the ban on Daniels' being allowed to protest was "unreasonable because it was too vague and too wide and it also was discriminatory".
He said a new code that said "Maori Television personnel must not bring the organisation into disrepute through their work and private activities" had helped to overcome a deficiency in policy.
The ruling said the station should draw up a charter of conduct for employees and publish workplace procedures, policies and rules for workers that also cover bullying.
MTS could not be contacted for comment.
Lawyer Annette Sykes, an advocate for Daniels, said the ruling was "ground-breaking" because Mr Dumbleton ruled MTS had failed to live up to its promise to act according to Maori values.