Key Points:

A telesales call centre operator, who claimed she was dismissed by her employer via a text message, has won her case for unjustified dismissal.

Laurel Shale worked from April 9 to November 30, 2007, at a telephone marketing call centre operated by Enduring Sales Ltd (ESL) in Auckland.

On November 30, she was sent home from work because she was upset about a workmate leaving the job. Later that day she received a text message from her supervisor saying she was not needed "on Monday or in future until further notice".

She was not contacted about any further work although ESL was advertising for more staff at the time. Ms Shale said ESL did not respond to requests from her to sort out her work situation.

She said she was effectively dismissed on November 30 because of earlier complaints about her supervisor.

ESL denied Ms Shale was dismissed and claimed she was a casual worker who left and did not seek any further work. It also denied receiving a letter from Ms Shale asking about her employment status and it disputed whether she had raised her personal grievance within the statutory time period of 90 days.

Ms Shale sought compensation for lost wages and for distress and injury to feelings.

Witness statements were lodged by both parties with the Employment Relations Authority.

The ERA said it did not accept that Ms Shale was a casual worker at ESL. Her written employment agreement referred to the position as a "casual part-time telesales representative".

However, this was not necessarily definitive of the real nature of the employment relationship. The agreement contained a provision requiring at least one week's notice of resignation which was not consistent with a casual employment relationship.

Also, Ms Shale's evidence that leave requests had to be approved by her supervisor suggested a part-time rather a casual employment relationship.

The ERA ruled that Ms Shale was employed on a permanent, part-time basis.

ESL claimed Ms Shale's grievance was not raised within 90 days of her alleged dismissal and the company denied receiving her December 11, 2007, letter raising her employment relationship problems.

On evidence presented, the ERA found that Ms Shale's grievance was raised with ESL within 90 days of her alleged dismissal.

The actions of ESL were not fair or reasonable and they amounted to an unjustified dismissal by way of a text message saying she was not needed until further notice and then ESL not contacting her again about any further work.

The ERA awarded Ms Shale $2000 in lost wages and $3000 as compensation for distress and injury to feelings.

- NZPA