The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has found in favour of forestry worker Nigel Brown, who was unfairly dismissed by Te Kohu Logging.
Brown was on the benefit and living in Tokoroa in 2017 when he was offered the job by Te Kohu Logging's sole shareholder and director Simon Ranginui.
The decision says Ranginui picked Brown up from Tokora and moved him to live on the camping ground at Huntly.
According to the decision, Brown worked from February to March without incident and was given a company vehicle two weeks into his tenure at the company, giving him transportation to collect and drop off other employees on workdays.
On March 20, 2017, Ranginui employed a new worker and dropped him off at the camping ground. Upon arriving there, he saw Brown sitting in the company vehicle having a cigarette and a beer.
The decision says Ranginui told Brown off for smoking and drinking in the vehicle.
Brown attended work as usual on March 21 and again worked without incident, but then had his employment terminated.
"At the end of the day, as he was finishing up Mr Ranginui told him his employment was being terminated on the basis that he had been disrespectful," the decision said.
The ERA determined that the dismissal did not meet the conditions for a "fair and reasonable" decision set out in the Employment Relations Act.
"The process leading to Mr Brown's dismissal was defective," the decision said.
"Te Kohu Logging had not raised its concerns about Mr Brown's behaviour prior to making the decision to dismiss him. There was no opportunity for Mr Brown to respond to any concerns before dismissal and therefore no genuine consideration of any explanation. The dismissal was immediate and abrupt. These defects were not minor and resulted in Mr Brown being treated unfairly."
The ERA ordered to Te Kohu to pay Brown $3807 for lost wages, $388.80 for arrears in wages, $256.60 for lost holiday pay and $500 for costs of the proceedings.
In addition, the ERA also ordered Te Kohu to pay Brown $8000 for "humiliation and distress" caused by the unfair dismissal.
"Mr Brown's evidence was compelling," the decision said.
"He was overjoyed at being in paid employment and after his dismissal was extremely embarrassed. He has had to move to Auckland to gain alternative employment with all the incumbent expenses associated with that move."
The decision said that being unfairly dismissed had made it more difficult for Brown to look after his children and abide by parole conditions, which were disclosed before he was employed.
The ERA said that Brown had not "contributed in any blameworthy way to the situation" and would therefore be entitled to the full compensation.