Broadcaster to continue legal action against TVNZ after 'forced' departure

Broadcaster resigned after being accused of 'touching a colleague in the newsroom'

Broadcaster to continue legal action against TVNZ after 'forced' departure

Broadcaster Kamahl Santamaria has announced that he will push through with his legal action against TVNZ regarding his employment in 2022.

Santamaria initially commenced proceedings last year against his former employer in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), which directed both parties to mediation by the end of February.

"That period has now lapsed without resolution, therefore I am continuing with my legal action against TVNZ," Santamaria said in a statement on his website. "The more that is discovered during this process, the more I believe this action is necessary."

Santamaria's departure

Santamaria departed TVNZ in May 2022 following an accusation of "touching a colleague in the newsroom," a claim that the broadcaster previously said was "never alleged… to be sexual and/or harassment."

"It was an instinctive and reflex gesture during a conversation where we were seated side-by-side in the newsroom, around other colleagues. It was done with no ill intent," he said in a previous statement.

"I was not aware at the time that it had caused any discomfort - and when it was brought to my attention, I immediately acknowledged and apologised for it."

There was also a "100% no-touching policy" at TVNZ's newsrooms, a rule that Santamaria said he was only informed about in a later meeting.

"That was the extent of it. How this complaint resulted in my employment being terminated is a question for others to answer," he said.

The broadcaster was put on leave on May 19 pending investigation of the matter, with TVNZ later explaining his absence as a "family emergency."

The reason for his absence was later criticised, with TVNZ's then-CEO apologising for its use and addressing that the phrase 'family emergency' was inappropriate.

Santamaria later clarified that he asked TVNZ to use the reason, stating that it was "exactly what it had become." The broadcaster then resigned on May 28, but remained employed until May 31.

'Forced' departure from TVNZ

He described his departure there as "forced," while also claiming that there was a group of people who were "unhappy" with his appointment within the organisation.

"It also became apparent that there was already opposition to the way the then-Head of News and Current Affairs was running the newsroom - well before I arrived," he said.

In pushing through with his legal action against his former employer, Santamaria said he seeks transparency in respect of TVNZ's actions after his resignation.

"And, to be clear, my proceedings are against TVNZ regarding ITS actions. It is about TVNZ, not the complainant - who is not, and never has been, the subject of these proceedings," he said.

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