A man who was unjustifiably dismissed said the job loss caused him to lose his home and his relationship of 14 years.
The Employment Relations Authority determined Diverse Hydraulics & Pneumatics Limited unjustifiably dismissed Shane Clement. In the decision, it was awarded the employer pay Clement lost wages of $11,375, holiday pay of $910, compensation for the loss of dignity and injury to feelings of $15,000 and legal costs of $1,946.
Clement was dismissed from Diverse just before Christmas in 2015. He was due to take two weeks' leave the following day.
The dismissal arose over a spat about worked hours and whether Clement was going to his own workshop when he was supposed to be working for Diverse. He received a first warning after he went into work in October 2015 for 1 and a half hours, leaving after a heated argument with a co-worker. According to Diverse manager Jeff Chandler, Clement "flipped his lid".
"[He] rushed upstairs and yelled down the hallway 'I'm over this f***ing s**t and I'm out of here.'"
Chandler said he expected Clement would go home, but instead saw his van parked outside his workshop. The following day, Clement went home sick but his van was again seen at his workshop.
Clement was called in for a disciplinary meeting about the absence but walked out. The ERA found that the warning was unfair because Clement had correctly filled his time sheet to account for the absence and Diverse had not properly investigated the circumstances.
The second warning was based on Clement leaving his van outside his workshop while he was meant to be making sales calls for Diverse. Clement argued he had left the van there and walked.
Nonetheless, he was called in for another disciplinary meeting where a pre-written letter was offered and which he did not take.
Finally, another spotting of the van outside the workshop saw Chandler call in Clement and hand him a dismissal letter.
The ERA found procedural failings with the warnings and final dismissal. When he was called in for the meetings, Clement was not told he could bring legal representation, instead he was offered a support person. The ERA also said Diverse used an unfair process to dismiss Clement.
Clement said that the dismissal caused him to have an emotional and physical breakdown which further caused him to lose his home and relationship of 14 years because he was unable to pay rent or support his partner and her children.
After losing his home, Clement moved into his windowless workshop which had no kitchen and no bathroom. His landlord allowed him to use the bathrooms at an adjoining premise.
Clement claimed $25,000 in compensation for the humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to his feelings caused by the unjustified dismissal. The ERA found that compensation of $15,000 was reasonable and agreed the negative affect of the unjustified dismissal was "significant".