A young woman whose bottom was slapped in "fun" by her boss has now been ordered to pay her former employer $5000 in costs in the case.

In a decision last month, the Employment Relations Authority found Bruce Sanson, the owner of Hamilton's The Plant Place, did not sexually harass his former employee Ella Newman.

Ms Newman, 23, resigned the day after she alleged Mr Sanson slapped her behind in December 2013, and then alleged he had previously sexually harassed her during the two years she worked at his Hamilton garden centre.

Authority member Anna Fitzgibbon rejected those claims, calling Ms Newman an unreliable witness and questioning why she did not complain earlier.


The bottom slap was "inappropriate and should not be repeated" but took place during a joke, Ms Fitzgibbon found.

"Ms Newman was being cheeky about Mr Sanson's floppy hat and he slapped her on the bottom. It was a one-off slap, which I accept was a 'fun slap'."

The authority has now ordered Ms Newman to pay her former employer a total of $5000 as a contribution to costs.

The Plant Place had sought costs as Ms Newman's last-minute application for a non-publication order increased its costs, Ms Fitzgibbon said in a new decision.

"Ms Newman produced no evidence regarding her costs or her financial circumstances to assist the authority... in the circumstances I order a contribution by Ms Newman of $1000 to The Plant Place in respect of the application for a non-publication order."

Ms Fitzgibbon also said as Ms Newman's witness statements were "vague" and required The Plant Place to call witnesses to respond to the "broad allegations" made by her, and as a result the business had to pay additional and unnecessary costs.

For this reason Ms Fitzgibbon also ordered Ms Newman to pay a further $4000 in costs.

"Accordingly, Ms Newman is ordered to pay The Plant Place a total of $5000 as a contribution to its costs in respect of the application for non-publication order and in respect of the substantive claims of sexual harassment and unjustified constructive dismissal."


Mr Sanson said he did not wish to make any comment until the end of the appeal period later today.

Ms Newman had appealed against both decisions last week, her lawyer Simon Scott said.

Mr Scott said as the matter was now back in front of the authority, Ms Newman would not be making any comment.