A painter who was fired from his job after a fiery swearing match with his boss has been awarded $22,000 by the Employment Relations Authority.

Johnny Woods worked for Lifestyle Projects Consulting in Whakatane from July 2014 until July 2016 when he was fired. Woods took a successful claim of unjustified dismissal to the ERA.

Woods and his boss Philip Vermaak did not agree on how the series of events that led to him being fired played out, but Jenni-Maree Trotman of the ERA decided Woods was late to a site visit and received a text message from Vermaak stating: "F U 2 it's passed (sic) 8.30".

An argument broke out at the site when Vermaak asked Woods "what the f*** are you doing?".


Both men were swearing at each other loudly and Woods approached Vermaak. When Vermaak asked Woods to stop, he pushed him backwards and told him he was fired.

Woods texted his former boss that same day asking if there would be a meeting to talk about what happened, but didn't receive a response.

The following day Woods asked what would happen with his final pay cheque and received a reply from Vermaak saying "nice s*** hey". When Woods again asked for his final pay Vermaak replied "F O".

The ERA found Lifestyle Projects Consulting did not act as a fair and reasonable employer should given the circumstances.

Woods was successful in his claim for compensation, and told the ERA he sought help from his doctor to treat depression and anxiety.

He said he had to borrow money to pay his rent and buy groceries during the six weeks before his unemployment benefit kicked in.

Woods' compensation and lost wages was reduced by 50 per cent by the ERA, which found he acted threateningly to his boss, who was 70 years old.

He was awarded $8376 in holiday pay, $6932 for lost wages, and $6000 compensation of injury to feelings.

Lifestyle Projects Consulting was ordered to pay a $1000 penalty for failing to pay the Ministry of Justice deductions from Woods' wages to pay court fines, with $750 going to Woods.