A meat worker has had an unfair dismissal complaint dropped by the Employment Relations Authority, which ruled her dismissal was justified after she failed to follow hygiene procedures.
Marie McNabb started working at Silver Fern Farms in 2001 as a seasonal meat worker.
McNabb was employed at its Te Aroha branch - the company's export plant - which is required to comply with strict Ministry of Primary Industries and overseas regulations.
Breaches of the regulations could result in the suspension of the company's export licence, meaning it would not be able to process or sell meat.
McNabb's job included preparing cuts of meat for packaging.
On June 24, 2016, operations improvement manager Ben Hook observed McNabb pick up a piece of meat from the floor and place it on the dropped meat table, before returning to her work station and continuing to handle other meat.
Hook informed Stephen Greenhill, Boning Room Supervisor, of what he had observed and McNabb was stood down.
The company felt McNabb had failed to follow the written "dropped meat procedure" put in place to protect the hygiene of packed meat, which required employees to wash their hands after handling dropped meat.
Silver Fern Farms said McNabb's failure to wash her hands before returning to the workstation amounted to serious misconduct and was a breach of hygiene and safety standards.
Following a disciplinary meeting on June 27, the company decided McNabb had not followed procedure and her actions could have put the company's export licence in jeopardy. McNabb was dismissed.
Evidence provided to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) showed McNabb had received training in the hygiene standards expected and knew her obligations.
The ERA ruled Silver Fern Farms' dismissal was justified and was "an action a fair and reasonable employer could make in all the circumstances of this case".