A Wellington chef who was sacked on the spot after sleeping through his alarm twice and missing a busy shift due to having a sore leg has been awarded nearly $10,000.

The Employment Relations Authority found in favour of Luke Keirsey after he was dismissed by his boss at a Wellington restaurant owned by Betty White Limited.

"Mr Keirsey was dismissed without notice, without investigation and without [the company] raising any of its concerns with Mr Keirsey formally," authority member Greg Wood said.

He was originally employed in November 2013 as a demi chef on a trial basis at Hummingbird - a restaurant and bar on Courtenay Place owned by Gina and Nick Mills.


Mrs Mills and executive chef Sahil Hussein soon came to the conclusion that Mr Keirsey did not have the skills to fulfil the role, at what was described as a "near fine-dining restaurant", and sent him to a new cafe they opened at Lyall Bay, called The Spruce Goose, the Employment Relations Authority decision said.

The decision said the new venture was "very successful" and Mr Keirsey worked long hours between December 6 and January 3, 2014, when he was sacked.

During that period, the chef worked 12-hour days, which took their toll.

"In these circumstances one might expect some sympathy from an employer when, on two occasions, he slept through his alarm after working late the night before," Mr Wood said.

"Mr Hussein was becoming more and more frustrated with what he saw as Mr Keirsey's lack of speed at his work and his failure to carry out specific instructions for food preparation."

Mr Keirsey missed a busy shift on New Year's Eve because of pains in his leg from a non-work accident and when he went to see Mr Hussein with a medical certificate a couple of days later, he was told he was no longer required.

His boss told the authority he had "simply had enough" of the employee's performance.

But Mr Wood ruled Mr Keirsey's performance was no fault of his own.


"This was not a case of a worker who deliberately disobeyed any instructions or was slack or lackadaisical at work," he said.

Six months and 20 job applications later, Mr Keirsey found new work in the hospitality industry.

He was awarded $9820 for loss of earning and emotional-harm compensation.

Comment was being sought from both parties.