Inspector fired for insulting colleagues

By Hana Garrett-Walker

A meat inspector who called colleagues at his Ashburton workplace 'fat-arsed bitches' has been awarded costs for 'distress' arising from his dismissal. File photo / Thinkstock
A meat inspector who called colleagues at his Ashburton workplace 'fat-arsed bitches' has been awarded costs for 'distress' arising from his dismissal. File photo / Thinkstock

A meat inspector who called colleagues at his Ashburton workplace "fat-arsed bitches" has been awarded almost $13,000 for "distress" arising from his dismissal.

Stephen Thomas, who had been an inspector on and off since 1975, was fired by AsureQuality in 2010 after walking off the job following a disagreement with collegues.

He went to the Employment Relations Authority seeking reinstatment, compensation and lost wages, but in a ruling released today, member Philip Cheyne refused because Mr Thomas had contributed to his sacking.

However he awarded him $12,800 for the "proven effects of the dismissal" which included "significant distress" arising from rumours about why he was sacked.

Mr Thomas suffered weight loss and poor appetite, sleep, motivation and concentration after his dismissal.

At the time of his sacking he was on a written warning after colleagues complained about his conduct.

One objected to him referring to workmates as "fat-arsed bitches" and another complained of verbal harassment.

The authority heard two other meat inspectors said Mr Thomas was "manipulative, overbearing, patronising and intimidating" and the work environment was much better after he was sacked.

Mr Cheyne said there was "animosity towards Mr Thomas from nearly half of his work colleagues" and "vehement" opposition to him returning to work.

AsureQuality interim chief executive Kelvin Smith told APNZ the company was happy they had not been ordered to reinstate Mr Thomas but would not comment further.

Mr Thomas could not be reached for comment.

- APNZ

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