A company advocating against workplace bullying has been ordered to pay $30,000 for breaching its obligations while also sending emails with a "bullying tone".
Employment Relations Authority chief James Crichton, in a decision dated May 1, found CultureSafe NZ and two of its employees, director Allan Halse and senior employment consultant Tracey Simpson, breached obligations relating to a client and a health organisation when writing to MPs.
Crichton made an urgent interim order in March to prevent further breaches, which ordered that no further breaches be made and prohibiting CultureSafe from publishing the health organisation's name.
In his second and latest determination, Crichton said although CultureSafe had not made any further breaches, correspondence from CultureSafe to the health organisation had a "hectoring, bullying tone".
Crichton's decision also pointed to a letter from CultureSafe to Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway calling for Crichton to be dismissed for "corrupt behaviour".
The correspondence suggested the threat for CultureSafe to breach its obligations again was potentially very serious and would "foreshadow further improper behaviour", his determination said.
CultureSafe did not file a statement of reply as part of the ERA proceedings, so Crichton accepted claims from the health organisation's lawyer that the breaches were serious and that the respondents undertook a "deliberate and sustained attack" on the organisation.
A key example was a letter from CultureSafe to the minister calling on an investigation into the health organisation that was likely to have affected its credibility, the decision said.
The ERA did not agree with CultureSafe that its actions were covered by the Protected Disclosures Act.
Crichton ordered the maximum penalty for an individual and ordered CultureSafe and its workers Halse and Simpson to pay the provider a total of $30,000, equating to $10,000 per person or entity, plus $3000 in damages.
A further order on indemnity costs was to be made once the organisation's lawyers provided details of its charges relating to the matter.
But Halse told the Herald he would not be paying a cent and the decision was "politically motivated" and "the biggest beat up".
Halse said he had been putting pressure on the ERA for the past year calling for Crichton to be removed from the role and criticising the authority in its handling of workplace bullying cases.
Crichton had a conflict and should not have been involved in the decision, he claimed.
Halse said the provider had acted improperly before CultureSafe.
"As far as I'm concerned that makes the agreement null and void and they can go and take a leap."
He also strongly refuted claims that CultureSafe had bullied the provider by saying it would make things public.
The ERA and Crichton declined to comment on determinations and the provider did not respond to requests for comment.