A convicted arsonist who described herself on Facebook as a "government employee and a very expensive paperweight, highly competent in the art of stationary [sic] theft" has lost her job.
Tania Dickinson, 34, lodged a complaint with the Employment Relations Authority claiming she had been unjustifiably disadvantaged and unjustifiably dismissed. She wanted her job back, compensation and lost wages.
Dickinson was dobbed in by the man whose house she torched. The house in the Bay of Islands was rented by Dickinson's former girlfriend when it was destroyed in August last year.
In a written report released by the authority this week, it was revealed in March this year the house owner spotted the comments on Dickinson's Facebook page and emailed a complaint to the Social Development Ministry.
The blaze in the uninsured property left the owner, who now lives in Canada, out of pocket by an estimated $330,000.
Last week in the Whangarei District Court Dickinson was jailed for four years.
But Dickinson was already under scrutiny having been issued with a final warning for a serious breach of conduct in October 2007, which related to accessing records of clients she knew.
From late 2007 she was employed in the Kaikohe office of Work and Income as a prisoner reintegration case manager attached to Ngawha prison.
But as soon as it was known Dickinson was charged with arson in September last year she was placed on paid leave of absence. In December 2009 she was allowed to work at the Kawakawa service centre part-time.
The complaint about the Facebook comments was made in March this year. As a result she was placed on paid leave again.
Following a meeting between Dickinson, three senior staff and the regional commissioner, it was decided Dickinson should be dismissed on the basis that the Facebook comments and the arson charge had eroded the ministry's confidence in her.
Employment Relations Authority member Dzintra King said said given Dickinson was convicted in November, reinstatement was not possible.
The authority found while Dickinson was on paid leave she was prevented from being in the workplace, which was a breach of the employment agreement.
But it was found her dismissal was justified. "The Facebook entries would not, in themselves, have justified a dismissal but in the context of Ms Dickinson's history with the ministry and her past behaviour the employer was entitled to consider that a point had been reached where trust and confidence no longer existed."
While the authority found unjustified disadvantage, no compensation was awarded.