A cabinetmaker has been awarded more than $25,000 by the Employment Relations Authority after it was found he was unfairly dismissed by his former employer.
Amar Nath had worked for Advanced Kitchens Limited (AKL) as a cabinetmaker and marble benchtop installer from December 2019 until late September 2020.
However, Nath left his employment because he had not been paid for a number of preceding weeks and when he raised concerns with the company about the issue, the
situation was not remedied, which he claimed caused him to lose confidence in AKL.
Believing he had been constructively dismissed, Nath made a claim seeking lost wages, compensatory damages, wage arrears, holiday pay, calculation of interest on arrears, findings of breach of statutory duties and award of penalty with the ERA.
AKL denied the claim Nath was constructively dismissed and didn't think any remedies should be awarded but acknowledged it owed him holiday pay.
The company in turn said Nath owed an outstanding balance of $2400 for a kitchen built for him, had damaged a workshop door, tried to solicit private work from AKL clients who complained about his behaviour, and took equipment and stock without authorisation.
In its decision released this month the ERA found Nath had established a personal grievance for unjustified constructive dismissal and was entitled to a consideration of the remedies sought.
The authority said it was established Nath put AKL on notice that the missed pays were a serious matter which caused him hardship and jeopardised the employment relationship.
"Failure to pay wages in full when due and owing is a serious breach of the duty owed to Mr Nath as AKL's employee.
"I am satisfied AKL breached duties owed to Mr Nath which have caused him to not return to work."
Nath found having to ask his employer for his pay humiliating and he had felt ashamed
when he was unable to pay bills because he had not received his wages.
He had also not been able to find new employment until April 19, 2021.
The ERA awarded Nath $2678.89 in wage arrears, $2967.56 for holiday pay, $6766.48 for lost wages and $12,000 for the harm he suffered - a total of $24,412.93. All amounts had to be paid within 21 days of the judgment.
AKL was also ordered to pay interest on the wage arrears and holiday pay from October 29, 2020 until the amount was paid in full.
A sum of $2000 was imposed by the ERA as a penalty for AKL's breach of duty, with half to be paid to Nath and half to the Crown.
Nath disputed the allegations made by the company and the ERA found with no clear evidence of the claims made by AKL, it could not succeed.