A former Countdown employee who claims he was racially and sexually harassed has taken the company to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
However, the ERA dismissed some of the man's claims saying he did not raise it with Countdown within the appropriate 90-day timeframe. It will however consider a racial harassment claim as part of a substantive investigation at a later date.
The man had worked as a checkout operator for Countdown on Quay St, Auckland, since 2011 but resigned in 2019 after what he says was an ongoing period of harassment by colleagues.
He went to the ERA saying he was discriminated against racially and sexually harassed between 2017 and November 2018.
In an affidavit provided to the ERA, he says he complained to a colleague about the discrimination and harassment grievances in late 2018.
He said he was "being incessantly bullied, racially vilified and sexually harassed" by a supervisor, but no further details were provided about the incident in the affidavit.
That colleague confirmed the man approached him while he was making a purchase at checkout in November 2018. However, given the environment, the colleague told him it was not the time and he should raise it with someone else.
The former employee did approach someone else. That person then sent an email to the former employee's representative in January 2019 which mentioned his concerns about a colleague's behaviour.
"I took notes of this conversation and dealt with it appropriately by discussing
the concerns with the supervisor involved," the woman said in her email.
In a decision released this week, an ERA member said it could not consider a grievance claim from 2017 to November 2018, because it wasn't reported within 90 days.
However, it would consider the prospect of a grievance being raised with the female worker in December 2018 at the substantive investigation meeting.
The ERA would also consider an incident on December 15, 2018, in which the man alleged a staff member swore at him and used racially offensive language. His representative said there were overtones of racial prejudice.
The ERA also found a complaint of racial harassment had been made by the former employee at a meeting in January 2019 about the incidents on December 15, 2018.
However, a question remained about whether the grievance for racial harassment could be pursued immediately or whether it fell into section 117 of the act, namely alleged harassment by someone other than the employer. The issue will be addressed during a substantive investigation.
Despite some parts of the former employee's claims being dismissed because they weren't reported within the required 90-day period, the ERA said some of it might be considered as background.
"Events which are not the subject of a grievance claim may form a factual background to a claim regarding a grievance which was raised in time."
Countdown said it was not able to comment on the situation while the matter was before the courts.