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'Storm in a teacup' at Candyland

By Heather McCracken

Candyland has been ordered to pay Jo-Anne Jarvis almost $13,500. Photo / Thinkstock
Candyland has been ordered to pay Jo-Anne Jarvis almost $13,500. Photo / Thinkstock

The candy maker threw off his wig and went home and the fairy may have vomited into the melted chocolate.

A decision of the Employment Court describes events at the Candyland tourist attraction on July 24, 2011, when, just before the third candy-making show of the day, "a deep unhappiness descended", according to Judge Christina Inglis.

The court was hearing an appeal against a decision of the Employment Relations Authority, which found employee Jo-Anne Jarvis was unjustifiably dismissed from the business in Taupiri near Hamilton.

On the day in question, Mrs Jarvis was dressed as a fairy to help with the candy making shows.

It was a busy Sunday in the school holidays, and a third show was called for in the afternoon.

However, "the candy maker, Mr Chen, for reasons which remained somewhat obscure, threw off his themed wig and overalls and announced in no uncertain terms that he was leaving", the court concluded.

Owner Michell Coker believed Mrs Jarvis had followed suit, abandoning her employment "after an explosive outburst".

Mrs Jarvis, however, said she kept working, helping clean up, trying to convince Mr Chen to finish the show, and changing out of her fairy outfit. She went home about 4pm because she was unwell.

"One particular concern was that Mrs Jarvis might have vomited into the melted chocolate during the candy making show," the decision said.

Mrs Jarvis denied this.

Mrs Coker met her a few days later and detailed concerns about her work - including use of profane language, abandoning her employment, disobeying her employer, and refusing to wear bright colours to fit Candyland's theme.

At the end of the meeting she was summarily dismissed, however Mrs Jarvis understood there was to be a further meeting.

Messages to Mrs Coker went unanswered and Mrs Jarvis eventually found another job.

Judge Christina Inglis said Mrs Coker had not followed procedure in dismissing Mrs Jarvis, had not raised any of the concerns previously and did not give her opportunity to provide an explanation.

Judge Inglis said she was satisfied many of the concerns were exaggerated, and the events of July 24 "appear to have represented something of a storm in a teacup".

The court upheld the authority's decision that Mrs Jarvis was unjustifiably dismissed, and ordered Candyland to pay her almost $13,500 - $4500 compensation, $3748 in lost wages and $5250 in costs.

- APNZ

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