A parking warden has been ordered to pay Auckland Transport $11,500 legal costs after losing three grievance claims against his former employer.

Yoon Cheol Hong worked with the council body from 2012 but was dismissed after his managers decided he went against instructions in dealing with abusive members of the public.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) previously found that Hong was not unjustifiably dismissed nor was he unjustifiably disadvantaged before
his dismissal.

Hong also lost an application for interim reinstatement while the authority considered his claims.


In its latest decision, the ERA awarded Auckand Transport $11,500 for the legal costs it incurred as a result of the dispute.

AT had sought $35,000 but the ERA found Hong would not be able to pay such a high amount.

It said AT had tried to settle Hong's claim on terms that were significantly better than the outcome.

Hong had declined two offers from AT before the ERA's investigation, the first being $12,500 the second $15,000, according to the decision.

AT's actual legal costs were about $55,000.

Hong, who according to the decision has now lodged a case with the Employment Court, said he had less than $50 in his bank account.

He said he had withdrawn all his available Kiwisaver funds meet his living expenses and he and his wife lived on her income as a home carer and his job-seeker weekly benefit of $113.

Nonetheless, the ERA determined that Hong, who has a law degree from the University of Auckland, was probably more well-informed than most about his risks of a costs award should he lose his case.


"To excuse him from any order for costs because he now had so little money
would fail to give any effect to the requirement for a 'steely' approach to costs where
an earlier, reasonable and better settlement offer was refused," the decision said.

Parking compliance manager Rick Bidgood earlier told the ERA the catalyst for the disciplinary process that led to Hong's dismissal was comments he made during a training seminar for parking officers in January.

Bidgood said Hong had used the words in describing his own experiences in the street: "I have told people that they have to stop swearing at me as it is against the law and I will charge them for the offence.

"That language is against the Human Rights Act. No one can speak to me in such a manner and I will not tolerate it and as a person I have every right to respond. It is my right. This is mental abuse."

The authority's decision also said Bidgood said Hong had referred to "trigger points" when dealing with a customers that meant he "would not back down" and that he "would respond".

Hong insisted he had actually said: "What about responding by saying, 'do not use offensive language in public place'?'' the authority decision said.