Boss smashes window of employee's work truck

By Heather McCracken

Mr Board struck the passenger door window with an open hand several times until the window broke. Photo / File / Thinkstock
Mr Board struck the passenger door window with an open hand several times until the window broke. Photo / File / Thinkstock

A boss who smashed the window of an employee's work truck because the worker was suspected of stealing diesel has been ordered to pay $5600 compensation.

The worker, William Tuhura, won his claim for unjustified constructive dismissal against Action Plumbing, Gas and Drainage Services Limited.

A determination by the Employment Relations Authority said Mr Tuhura began working for the company as a drainlayer in 2009.

His boss, managing director Daniel Board, became suspicious that Mr Tuhura was taking diesel bought with a work fuel card for personal use.

On November 28, 2011, Mr Board located Mr Tuhura in his work truck and demanded he hand over the truck, keys and work fuel card.

The confrontation culminated in Mr Board smashing the passenger window of the truck in which Mr Tuhura was seated with the doors locked.

Mr Tuhura did not return to work after the incident, and claimed he had been unjustifiably constructively dismissed.

In its response, Action said it acted justifiably to recover its property, and intended to carry out an investigation into Mr Tuhura taking diesel for personal use. However he failed to take part in the investigation and abandoned his employment.

Action said when Mr Tuhura was asked to see Mr Board before leaving work that day, Mr Tuhura responded "Tell Daniel to get ****ed".

Mr Tuhura said he didn't have time to see his boss as he needed to pick up his son.

Mr Board and foreman Kere Marshall tracked Mr Tuhura's truck on GPS and pulled up alongside him outside his former partner's house on Northcote Rd.

Conflicting evidence was given as to what happened next, but authority member Christine Hickey said in her determination she was satisfied both sides were angry and aggressive.

When Mr Tahuna refused to open the truck door, Mr Board struck the passenger door window with an open hand several times until the window broke.

Mr Tahuna, whose right arm was cut by flying glass, then drove away.

Both parties called police, who allowed Mr Board to accompany Mr Tuhura home to unload his own tools and hand over the truck, keys and fuel card.

The authority found Mr Tuhura was unjustifiably constructively dismissed, although the amount of compensation was reduced by 30 per cent due to the worker's conduct contributing to events.

Action was ordered to pay $5600 in compensation and $1,147.65 in withheld wages, less the cost of mobile phone use by Mr Tuhura.

- APNZ

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