An employee of a Northland freezing works dismissed for serious misconduct, including threatening to kick a female co-worker, has failed in an attempt to get his job back.

The Employment Relations Authority has ruled Roedolf Robberts was not unjustifiably dismissed by Silver Fern Farms in Dargaville in August - less than three months after he received a final written warning for his behaviour.

Mr Robberts started at the plant as a shift engineer in November 2011 and was given an individual employment contract which contained rules around, among other things, termination and suspension from work. Following a disciplinary meeting on May 26, 2015, three warnings and a final written warning was issued to him. He failed to follow health and safety policies, including swearing and making obscene gestures at another employee, and failure to follow maintenance procedures.

However, on July 20 he was involved in a terse exchange with a female employee while he was adjusting a light fitting.


After that exchange Robberts entered an office and told the quality assurance controller: "Your other lady supervisor needs to know when to shut her mouth. She is lucky I didn't stick my size 11 boot up her ass."

The female quality assurance controller said Robberts was obviously in an agitated state and she felt intimidated by his comments and they made her feel anxious for another employee.

A complaint was made and a meeting set up with the plant manager Lance Warmington and Mr Robberts was told that he was entitled to legal representation and not to approach any of the employees involved in the investigation before the meeting on July 27. But, prior to the meeting Mr Robberts approached the woman he allegedly made the comment about and said words to the effect: "I've been listening to gossip. I've read your statement thank you very much: you should watch what you say about people."

Mr Robberts was advised by Mr Warmington prior to a disciplinary meeting that his alleged breaches of the employment agreement were serious and had the potential to place his job at risk. He was dismissed on August 12 for serious misconduct.

He filed a personal grievance claim in September last year claiming he was unjustifiably dismissed and disadvantaged after the company suspended and issued him with a final written warning. Mr Robberts also claimed a contractual breach of contract and duty of good faith.