"It was like going from heaven to hell."

That is how Wai Ying (Melody) Cheng looks back on her time working for Richora Group Limited.

"I loved working there at the start, it was a company that would promote Rotorua internationally and I love Rotorua so I wanted to be involved with that.

"When I was locked out, threatened and then had rumours spread about me, it all turned."

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Cheng has been awarded more than $25,000 after the Employment Relations Authority found Richora Group Limited had unjustifiably dismissed and subsequently threatened her.

Of that, $3663.19 was for wage arrears and another $2250 was to contribute to Cheng's legal costs.

Speaking with the Rotorua Daily Post, Cheng said she was still hurt about the situation, nearly a year on.

"I'm afraid to meet new people, it gives me anxiety because I don't know what they have heard about me. This whole process has been really hard for me and my husband.

"I've been hiding at home all this time, it doesn't feel like it's over for me."

Cheng was relieved with the authority's determination, delivered late last month, but said she did not do it for the money.

"I didn't want people to misunderstand my family and I didn't want other Rotorua people to be taken advantage of by their employers. People shouldn't suffer and I wanted to show you can stand up for yourself.

"I have no anger towards my former employers, I'm just hurt. I still want it to be amicable. In the future I don't want there to be any bad feelings. I'd love to be able to say hi in the street one day."