A farm worker was found to be unjustifiably dismissed, despite being accused of costing the farm he worked on over $60,000 after allegedly causing the death of 73 cows.

Morgan Tuau claims he was unjustifiably dismissed from his role as a farm manager, the Employment Relations Authority heard.

In a counter-claim, his boss, Craig Southall, said he suffered losses as a result of Mr Tuau's alleged failure to teat spray the cows, and also sought reimbursement of an overpayment of wages.

The Employment Relations Authority was told that Mr Tuau started work as a farm hand for Mr Southall in August 2013, and in January 2014 was promoted to the role of farm manger.


On the morning of September 22, 2014 Mr Tuau told the authority he was milking the cows, when he asked Mr Southall if they could sort out weekends that were owed to him.

During the discussion Mr Southall raised concerns that Mr Tuau had failed to teat spray the cows, and failed to show up for work, on two separate occasions.

The authority said the discussion ended in a "heated exchange" between the pair that resulted in allegations that Mr Southall assaulted Mr Tuau.

Once the milking had finished, Mr Tuau returned home where he was visited by a colleague, who told Mr Tuau, that Mr Southall wanted to meet with him to try and resolve what had happened.

Mr Tuau said he would not attend the meeting as he had a doctors appointment.

The authority said that same morning, a friend of Mr Mr Southall went to Mr Tuau's house and gave him a written warning signed by Mr and Mrs Southall for not showing up for work, and for not teat spraying the cows.

He also extended an invitation on behalf of Mr Southall to meet and discuss concerns relating to the incident earlier that morning.

Instead, Mr Tuau reported an allegation of assault to the Otorohanga Police Station. He then visited his doctor and got a medical certificate for sick leave for two weeks.


After that he went to work, gave Mr Southall his medical certificate, and told him he had reported the incident to police.

Mr Tuau then received a letter from Mr Southall, terminating his employment.

Authority member Vicki Campbell said Mr Southall failed to follow requirements set out in the employment agreement, and found Mr Tuau was unjustifiably dismissed

Mr Tuau was awarded $2550 in compensation.

In regards to Mr Southall's counter-claim, Mr Tuau said while he did teat spray the cows some of the time, there were occasions where he did not.

Senior vet, Jessica Shelgren, told the authority she calculated the probable losses suffered by Mr Southall as a result of the failure of Mr Tuau to undertake teat spraying was $61,500.

This was due to the fact Mr Southall had to cull 73 of his cows because of mastitis, and also included costs associated with the treatment of the herd and discarded milk due to quality issues.

The authority said there was no evidence that Mr Southall had culled 73 cows from his herd. The vet told the authority her calculations relied on a figure provided by Mr Southall.

Ms Campbell said while Mr Southall's milk production records showed high SCC levels, which can lead to mastitis, it was not possible to determine whether the reason for this was a direct result of Mr Tuau's failure to teat spray the cows at times.

She also said Mr Southall did not satisfy her "on the balance of probabilities" that Mr Tua was overpaid.

Ms Campbell said Mr Southall's counter claims had not been successfully made out, and declined to make any awards against him.

Costs were reserved.

Both parties were not immediately available for comment.