The Employment Relations Authority has awarded a man more than $16,000 after he was sacked for refusing to do a job which he thought was illegal.

Richard Hao Zhu was employed as a financial analyst by Renaissance Investments and Finance Group Ltd on March 3, 2011.

He was seconded to China to start a new branch of the company where he was instructed to undertake a form of foreign exchange trading.

According to the ERA's determination, released today, he believed this contravened Chinese laws and would have been a criminal offence, therefore he did not follow instruction.


When he returned to New Zealand, Renaissance gave Mr Zhu an unpaid leave application and told him unless he signed it he would not be paid the commission he was owed of up to $4700.

He refused to sign the application and was instructed not to come to work again.

The company did not dispute the dismissal, but made a counterclaim against Mr Zhu for $9000 in overpaid salary.

It alleged he did not have a work Visa while he was employed, and that he took unauthorised paid leave in China for one month.

The company did not produce evidence to support these claims, and they were dismissed.

Mr Zhu raised the "contentious attitude of Renaissance" in its handling of the litigation. For example, he said it ignored a request for mediation and when the company did turn up for mediation it did not stay.

The ERA determined that Mr Zhu was unjustifiably dismissed and ordered Renaissance to pay him $3600 in wage arrears, $7800 in lost remuneration, $3000 compensation for hurt and humiliation and $1750 for legal costs.