A Dunedin Night 'n Day worker who threatened to swallow a co-worker "like a snake" if the colleague threw away a banoffee pie has been awarded $6000 for unjustifiable dismissal.
Brodie Halliday, who was dismissed from Regent Night 'n Day Foodstore in September after working there 10 months, told the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) that everyone who worked with him knew "about his weird sense of humour and no one would take him seriously".
His employer, Lane Group Ltd, said the note on the banoffee pie was just one example of a string of performance issues, which meant his dismissal was justified.
The note, which was found by a manager, read: "I swear to God that if you throw this out I will open my jaw and swallow you like a snake."
Lane Group argued Halliday turned up late, failed to complete many of his assigned duties, loitered on the premises after his shift ended and displayed unprofessional behaviour by using till slips as a scarf and hat during his shifts.
One witness said when customers left Halliday lost focus and would "stare into space".
Halliday says he was was disadvantaged in his employment because he continued to be rostered on to make sandwiches after he was verbally abused.
He argued the breaches resulted in stress and two periods of sick leave and that Lane Group commenced a course of action that he says was designed to cause him to resign.
The sandwich trainer at the store acknowledged saying "F*** this I'm going home" after becoming fed-up with training Halliday, but denies swearing directly at him.
She said Halliday would not take instruction and would not make the sandwiches the way she asked him to.
When told to follow instructions Halliday would sulk.
Sometimes, she said, he would sit on the floor, which she found quite unusual and sometimes he would cry.
Halliday did not disagree that there were occasions he sat on the floor.
Lane Group argued it was unaware that working in the food room was causing Halliday distress until about June 2016, by which stage he had ceased working in the sandwich room.
The ERA ruled Lane Group did not follow its policy over performance issues.
"Some of the reasons for dismissal had not been put to Halliday or put inadequately.
"A decision to dismiss as a result was not one accordingly that a fair and reasonable employer could have reached in all the circumstances."
However, the ERA was not satisfied that Halliday was targeted by his employer.