A farm worker was unfairly sacked when the owner reacted badly to him bringing his dogs to the farm.

Phil Stewart worked on a property owned by David Lee-Jones and Cathy Douglas in Manawatu-Whanganui for a month on a contract that was renewed every two weeks.

Stewart, according to a recent Employment Relations Authority (ERA), knew a fulltime position would be available in coming months, and believed his position was a trial period before the fulltime job became available.

Douglas told him three weeks after he started work on the farm he would be leaving.


Stewart says Douglas said his contract was not being renewed and "you may as well spend the next few days packing up".

Stewart asked why, and Douglas replied: "I didn't like the way you brought a new animal on the farm without consulting me."

Stewart said he had several dogs on the farm and was never told he couldn't bring extra dogs.

He brought a claim of unjustified dismissal to the ERA.

Douglas said she did have a problem with Stewart's dogs, but this wasn't why his employment was ended.

She said he was a casual worker and the employment was always going to be ended at some point.

The ERA found his employment was a fixed-term arrangement and was expected to end when a full-time worker was found for the available position and his dismissal was unjustified.

Douglas and Lee-Jones counter-claimed that Stewart damaged and removed items from the property, but the ERA said the claims were poorly supported and couldn't be proved.


Douglas and Lee-Jones were ordered to pay Stewart $7705 in lost wages.