A man was unjustifiably dismissed from his job as an account manager one month after suffering a heart attack and undergoing open heart surgery.

Lee Brown took a claim of unjustified dismissal to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) after he lost his job with Advance International Cleaning Systems (New Zealand) Ltd (AICS) after his heart attack.

AICS said Brown was dismissed from the job due to medical incapacity, but the ERA found it was unjustified.

Brown, who worked for the company in Hastings, had a heart attack on July 13, 2015 and needed to undergo open heart surgery. On August 10 he advised the company his doctor recommended he remain off work until September 1.


Brown's manager considered the company would be impacted by his absence for such a long period and sent him a letter saying "it may be best that you stand down".

Brown engaged a lawyer and raised a formal grievance with AICS that he had been unjustifiably dismissed.

The ERA said medical incapacity was the "prime" reason behind AICS' decision to dismiss Brown, but they were influenced by other aspects.

According to the law, an employment contract isn't ended just because an employee is ill or has been in the past, there must be medical evidence that the employee is permanently unable to work.

Therefore, AICS was unjustified in dismissing Brown and he was awarded $10,384 in lost wages by the ERA.

Brown told the ERA he was hurt by the dismissal, and had a "sense of bewilderment" at how he could have been fired.

He suffered humiliation, emotional pain and issues from the financial pressure he found himself under.

The ERA awarded Brown $6000 in compensation.

Read the full decision here: