Petrol station attendant awarded $10,000 over dismissal

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A former Christchurch petrol station attendant has been awarded more than $10,000 in unpaid wages and compensation after being unjustifiably dismissed last year.

The Employment Relations Authority at Christchurch heard Nathan Gunning was employed at Blighs Road Service Station from August 1 until he was given notice by the station's owner on August 23 last year.

Station owner David Caddick said Mr Gunning was unable to bring an unjustified dismissal claim because there was a 90-day trial period provision in the contract he signed.

He said Mr Gunning "decided of his own accord to abandon his employment immediately" once he was dismissed and not to work out his notice period.

The authority heard that when Mr Gunning received his employment agreement a number of details were not filled in, including the hourly rate and the position title.

While Mr Gunning was getting changed into his uniform on his first day of work, service station manager Colin Brown filled in the blanks in his contract by hand, including Mr Gunning's remuneration of $14 an hour.

A 90-day trial period clause was included in a final version of Mr Gunning's contract, however authority member Christine Hickey found it was not valid as he was technically already an employee of the business before the clause was added.

Mr Gunning's representative Mark Henderson told the authority that his client's dealings with Mr Caddick amounted to him being "bullied, intimidated, spoken to in an aggressive manner and humiliated".

Mr Gunning highlighted an incident where one evening Mr Caddick came into the service station and asked him if he knew where the forecourt lights were.

When he told him that he didn't, Mr Gunning alleged Mr Caddick told him he should have used his initiative and asked.

Mr Gunning alleged Mr Caddick then asked him how he would feel if it was his "f****** business" and he looked and saw no lights on.

Mr Gunning said the exchange left him embarrassed and humiliated.

Mr Caddick acknowledged he had asked Mr Gunning how he would feel if it was his business and he employed people who were not doing their job properly, but disagreed that the exchange was humiliating and embarrassing for Mr Gunning. Mr Caddick said Mr Gunning was unable to take criticism.

Ms Hickey came to "the unavoidable conclusion" that Mr Gunning was unjustifiably dismissed, awarding him lost remuneration of $5460, unpaid wages of $144, unpaid holiday pay of $545 and unpaid employer Kiwisaver contributions.

The business was also ordered to pay Mr Gunning $6000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to his feelings.

The authority also ordered the business to pay a $1000 penalty for breaching the Wages Protection Act.

Mr Gunning and Mr Caddick could not immediately be reached for comment.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 27 Dec 2014 13:26:29 Processing Time: 806ms