A chicken sexer who returned to work from holiday to find her job was being done by new workers brought in from overseas has been awarded $2000 compensation.
Patricia Sleeth had worked for Bromley Park Hatcheries Ltd in Tuakau, in Waikato from 1996 until she resigned in July last year, an Employment Relations Authority report said.
Her job involved sexing chickens by either using a machine to insert a probe in the birds, which she was paid $40 an hour, or by inspecting their feathers, which paid $16.50 an hour.
Ms Sleeth returned to work after a two week holiday in July last year to find a Filipino couple had been employed in her role to sex chickens using a squeeze, or vent technique - which was faster, more accurate and had animal welfare benefits superior to the machine testing method.
"On arriving at work that day she found her usual hatchery work clothes were being used by one of the Filipinos and the couple were doing the sexing work that she had expected to do that day," the ERA report said.
"Instead she was put to work on other hatchery tasks for which she received a lower pay rate."
Ms Sleeth told the authority she formed the view from that information that she could "no longer afford to keep coming to work" as she would not get any machine sexing work and "it simply wasn't worth getting up at 2-3am to work for a few hours at $16.50 per hour and I couldn't bear to watch someone else do my job", the report said.
She considered she had been made redundant and left her job on July 25.
The Hatchery's lawyer told the authority the company denied Ms Sleeth was unjustifiably disadvantaged or constructively dismissed. Her role at the hatchery was still available and she was welcome to return and start training in the new sexing technique, he said.
Authority member Robin Arthur found that Ms Sleeth was not constructively dismissed, but she was unjustifiably disadvantaged by the company's actions.
As well as the $2000 compensation, Mr Arthur ordered the company pay Ms Sleeth $334 in lost wages and $1000 for breaching her employment agreement. Ms Sleeth told NZME. she believed the company's intention was to replace their workers with Filipinos who used the different sexing technique.
She said even though she was awarded compensation, the money came nowhere close to covering the costs of taking the company to the ERA.
Nobody from Bromley Park was immediately available for comment.