Winz worker's dismissal going to court

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Kerikeri's Rocksalt bar, where an altercation allegedly involving Jane Drader took place. Photo / supplied
Kerikeri's Rocksalt bar, where an altercation allegedly involving Jane Drader took place. Photo / supplied

A former Work and Income boss who lost a claim for unjustified dismissal says she was king-hit with a bottle and not involved in "a bar room brawl", her lawyer says.

Jane Drader of Kerikeri lost her job of 16 years in March 2011 after looking up a client's unlisted phone number in Winz files and making an allegedly threatening phone call. The client was so frightened she moved out of her home.

The phone call followed what the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) called a fight with the client at Rocksalt Bar in Kerikeri.

Mrs Drader took her dismissal to the ERA but lost.

Her lawyer, Bryce Quarrie, said Mrs Drader had been struck in the face with a bottle without provocation.

She was dazed and confused. Despite that, the ERA finding described the incident as a fight.

"It wasn't a fight. It was a king hit," Mr Quarrie said.

"The ministry might have been justified in raising subsequent issues, but the fact is that my client was the victim of a vicious attack, not party to a bar room brawl."

The ERA's decision would be challenged in the Employment Court.

Mr Quarrie said his client felt "seriously abandoned" by management and hung out to dry.

Mrs Drader laid a complaint with police on the evening of the assault but did not tell her bosses until six days later. She was sacked on March 29 after a series of meetings with management.

She told the ERA the assault had been the direct result of her following proper protocols and processes. The way management treated her had upset her.

"I was the victim of an attack ... I felt like I was being investigated like a criminal investigation and that I was somehow to blame for it all," she said.

She accepted she should not have phoned the client but no consideration had been given to her state of mind. as a result of the attack and possible concussion. The ERA noted she had not sought medical treatment.

The ERA found Mrs Drader's dismissal was justified "in all the circumstances".

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