A foul-mouthed seafood company employee who was fired for allegedly intimidating colleagues got his job back and a $18,000 payout after it was found the decision to dismiss him appeared "preordained".

Jason Rangitakatu was employed as a production supervisor at Cloudy Bay Seafood in Nelson in January 2013.

Only weeks later he was promoted to the position of production manager, responsible for up to 50 staff.

But within days he was involved in several expletive-laden altercations with the firm's factory manager Nick Cairney, who went to bosses saying he was no longer willing to work in an "environment of anger and intimidation".


An investigation was immediately launched by Cloudy Bay Holding Group general manager Mike Ponder.

After speaking with witnesses, Mr Ponder highlighted five incidents of concern featuring Mr Rangitakatu.

Mr Cairney alleged his colleague "yelled and swore" during a dispute over a health and safety issue and blocked his exit from the room.

It was also alleged Mr Rangitakatu had stood the processing staff in a line against a wall and verbally abused them.

Mr Ponder found two staff left as a result.

On March 31 - after various meetings - a letter was sent to Mr Rangitakatu informing him of his dismissal.

"I do not have the confidence that I am able to provide a safe workplace for the other employees whilst you are in the workplace," Mr Ponder wrote.

However, when Mr Rangitakatu took the case to the Employment Relations Authority, ruling member Michael Loftus read the situation differently.


He called Cloudy Bay Seafood's enquiry "deficient" and said foul language was commonplace in the factory environment.

"[The company] failed to properly put its concerns and consider the response and it would appear the outcome was preordained," Mr Loftus said.

Mr Cairney also accepted he was not completely blameless and admitted to swearing and making gestures with his fists during arguments with Mr Rangitakatu.

Despite Mr Ponder saying the sacked worker's tasks had been redistributed and he would likely be made redundant if he came back, the authority ruled he should be reinstated.

Mr Rangitakatu was also awarded payments for loss of wages, loss of bonuses and injury to feelings totalling more than $18,000.

Comment was being sought from both parties.