From a dispute over an erratic motorcycle-riding postie to an employee who was paid out after swearing at his boss, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) hears some of the most bizarre workplace fallouts.
One of the ERA's most contentious decisions occurred in November, when the authority's Anna Fitzgibbon found The Plant Place owner Bruce Sanson did not sexually harass former employee Ella Newman when he slapped her bottom.
The 23-year-old resigned the day after the incident in December last year and then alleged Mr Sanson had previously sexually harassed her during the two years she worked at his Hamilton garden centre.
However, Ms Fitzgibbon rejected the claims, calling Ms Newman an unreliable witness and questioning why she did not complain earlier.
Bruce Sanson was found innocent of sexually harassing an employee by slapping her behind.
"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'," she said.
To add insult to injury, in a decision published this week, the authority ordered Ms Newman pay costs of $5000.
She has indicated she will appeal against both decisions.
Another of this year's biggest cases involved AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, who was ordered to pay three employees more than $72,000 after kicking a door in and sacking them during a tantrum at his restaurant.
The authority heard he had gone to his Tauranga restaurant Phil's Place in July 2012 and asked the chef for an antipasto platter to be delivered to his boat moored nearby. However, Rudd's security guard then told a restaurant staffer the meal should go to his aircraft hangar.
Rudd later returned to the restaurant, kicking the back door in and asking; "Where is my f****** meal?" He then continued to yell at staff, the authority heard. He apologised personally at a hearing this February.
Meanwhile, a forklift operator who told his boss to "go f*** yourself" was awarded $13,000 in two separate decisions issued by the authority this year for his unfair dismissal, humiliation, loss of dignity, and hurt feelings.
The payout was ordered after the ERA found his employer failed to follow fair process with his dismissal.
He would have been awarded more but his payout was cut by 20 per cent by authority member Helen Doyle who said he didn't "need to and should not have said what he did".
In a similar decision, the authority found that a cleaner who reportedly told her boss she would send someone to him and the visit "wouldn't be nice" if he did not pay her, was wrongly fired and awarded her more than $1000 in compensation.
One of the recurrent themes before the ERA this year was the exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.
A recent case involved a chef employed at a Christchurch Vietnamese restaurant who was awarded $175,000 after working for five years without being paid. His brother was awarded $14,000.
The authority heard they worked an average of 66.5 hours over seven days and lived in their employer's garage. In her decision, authority member Christine Hickey said there was "an increasing number of cases in which vulnerable migrant workers have been subject to exploitation".
A similar case occurred at Auckland Japanese restaurant Genji Ponsonby, which in October was ordered to pay $22,000 for failing to pay wages and holiday pay to migrant workers.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said it was unfortunate that it was not the first time it had to deal with the restaurant's owner.
In a separate case, a Filipino couple who worked at the Auckland Harbour Oaks hotel were awarded nearly $80,000 in compensation by the ERA after they were underpaid and had their salaries withheld.
They claimed that at the beginning of their employment, they each worked for three weeks but were paid only for two. When they queried the discrepancy they were told by a manager that the money was retained as a deposit - which the ERA said constituted a breach of the Wages Protection Act.
Despite its successes, the ERA isn't the last avenue of appeal for disillusioned workers - as discovered by motorcycle postie Murray McLennan, who was fired after being seen by the company's general manager of delivery riding erratically and with one hand.
He was awarded more than $10,000 in lost wages and compensation after going to the ERA, but the authority declined to reinstate him to his former position. That prompted a further appeal to the Employment Court, which ordered Mr McLennan be reinstated to his former position within 14 days of the court's decision. NZME.