Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Sacked worker refused to wear safety equipment

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A joinery worker who repeatedly refused to wear safety equipment and yelled obscenities at his boss was justifiably sacked, the Employment Relations Authority has ruled.

The authority also ordered Craig Hall to pay $1000 to his former employer, A Step Up Joinery Ltd, to go towards its legal costs of having the unjustified dismissal case brought against it.

Mr Hall was reminded numerous times in May and June 2012 by his supervisor and one of the company's directors Neill Rutherford to wear safety glasses while working, the authority decision said.

Mr Hall refused to wear them and said the company would need to fire him.

After a warning in June, Mr Hall "walked towards Mr Rutherford and yelled 'get f*****, you are a f****** c*** and should stop this s***. I am not going to wear them," the ruling said.

Mr Hall was told a disciplinary hearing would be held about the language and refusal to wear the safety equipment -- to which Mr Hall again used obscene language, the ruling said.

At the meeting, Mr Hall said he did not consider his language to be insulting, abusive and threatening because that kind of language was used in the workplace.

He also did not believe he needed to wear the glasses because there were no health and safety issues that could arise from not wearing them, and when he did wear them, they fogged up and he was afraid of losing a finger.

Mr Rutherford considered the explanations, but he fired Mr Hall on the grounds of serious misconduct.

The authority agreed with the actions and told Mr Hall in its ruling that the company's actions were those of a fair and reasonable employer.

"I consider Mr Hall's actions to have been blameworthy," authority member Christine Hickey said.

Mr Rutherford did not want to comment about the case until after the appeal period had finished.

But he was critical of the ERA process, saying it catered for the stress and costs to the employee but not the employer.

Insurance had covered the costs of the case, but Mr Rutherford said if he was paying it would have probably set him back about $15,000, yet he was only awarded $1000.

"I don't get awarded anything for humiliation or for stress, but he can claim for it.

"It's not level, it's not fair -- and it's just as stressful for an employer as an employee, especially in a small business."

Mr Hall was not immediately available to be contacted.

- APNZ

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