An Auckland bus driver who wanted $1 million in compensation as part of a wrongful dismissal claim has lost his court appeal.
Mohammad Aslam challenged the decision of the Employment Relations Authority, which found Transportation Auckland Corporation Ltd (Transportation Auckland) was justified in sacking him for serious misconduct in August 2016.
On appeal, Judge Joanna Holden - in her Employment Court decision released this month - also ruled that the dismissal process was fair and justified.
The incident occurred on July 4 last year when Aslam, who had been a driver for six years, was driving from Onehunga to Auckland's CBD.
One of his passengers said he'd failed to make a turn on the route, but Aslam believed he was on the correct road.
When the passenger returned home he phoned Auckland Transport (AT) to complain about what he said was a "verbal and physical assault by a bus driver".
The written record of the telephone complaint read: "[The passenger] said to the driver 'Hey I think you['re] going the wrong way'. The driver said [to the passenger] 'F**k off and sit back down on your seat'."
The passenger said Aslam then took a photo of him and said he would find out where the passenger works, go to his job and "F**k him over".
Aslam then pulled the bus over after the passenger asked to get off, but as he was leaving Aslam grabbed the man's arm and shoved him towards the sidewalk, the complaint reads.
On July 9, 2016 the passenger also sent Transportation Auckland a video of the incident.
During the 10-second-long clip Aslam can be heard saying "out" and is seen rising from his seat. The passenger is also heard saying "okay I'll get out".
The video shows Aslam advancing towards the camera, before the images become indistinct. But the audio continues and the passenger is heard saying: "Get your hands off of me. Get your hands off of me."
The video ends with Aslam returning to his driver's seat.
After a series of internal Transportation Auckland meetings Aslam was suspended. He was then asked to attend a disciplinary hearing on July 29, 2016.
Aslam claimed that he stood up and said to the passenger to get out but did not advance towards him. However, after watching the video he accepted he'd stepped into the bus aisle and moved towards the passenger. He continued to deny touching the passenger.
At a meeting on August 11, 2016 Aslam was fired.
In his claim for wrongful dismissal, Aslam wanted lost earnings of $100,000 per year from the date of his dismissal for 10 years.
He also claimed $100,000 as compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to his feelings.
Having had no prior history of any misconduct, he said he had a bright future and the large size of Transportation Auckland warranted the higher award.
Aslam also said he was dismissed because Transportation New Zealand had 150 to 200 excess drivers.
At the two-day court hearing in October he further said the telephone complaint shouldn't have been accepted because it included swear words.
Costs for the court case were reserved.