Manager wins over $22,000 for unjustified disadvantage, dismissal

Employer's 'failure of communication and adherence to due process' led to results, ERA says

Manager wins over $22,000 for unjustified disadvantage, dismissal

A former herd manager has won over $22,000 after the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled that he was unjustifiably disadvantaged and dismissed.

Jayson King was former herd manager for Kaamadhenu Agribusiness, a business contracted by farm owners to their dairying operations.

He complained to the ERA that he was the subject of an unjustified warning in December 2022 after he received a "First Notice of Misconduct" after getting accused of reporting to work while under the influence of alcohol.

The notice, which didn't mention King's acceptance of wrongdoing, warned the herd manager that he would be subject to a four-week termination notice if he became subject of another misconduct.

King also told the ERA that he was not happy with the treatment that he got from Kaamadhenu, and that he was unsatisfied with the company's actions when he experienced difficulties in working with his immediate manager and co-worker.

Kaamadhenu, however, argued that they made "significant efforts to accommodate" King's concerns, and that he voluntarily resigned.

But King disputed that it was a voluntary decision, saying that he was dismissed when he "signalled to resign."

Unjustified disadvantage

The ERA ruled in favour of King in the case, saying that Kaamadhenu's "failure of communication and adherence to due process" led them to the employment relationship problem.

According to the ERA, there were flaws in Kaamadhenu's handling of the complaint made against King, such as the herd manager not getting a copy of the complaint letter, the lack of opportunity to seek representation, and the lack of reasonable time provided to respond to the allegations before getting a written warning.

"I find the flaws described went well beyond mere technicalities and they were not actions of an employer being fair and reasonable," the ERA ruled. "I find they were not minor defects and cumulatively resulted in Mr. King being treated unfairly."

Unjustified dismissal

On King's relationships with his colleagues, the ERA said the correct approach should have been to investigate and resolve his issues with his colleagues.

"Kaamadhenu should have sought to review the dynamics of the operation they had imposed and ascertain if Mr. King's concerns had validity or even whether Mr. King was the source of his own issues," it said.

"Instead, by the point of the dismissal it was apparent that the focus had inappropriately shifted to Mr King's well-being and performance issues."

The ERA added that Kaamadhenu's communication was poor and lacked a proper level of authority.

"The subsequent decision to dismiss Mr King was unjustified and causative of additional distress. Quite simply put, Kaamadhenu's failure of communication and adherence to due process, led to the dilemma they found themselves in."

It ordered the employer to pay King $22,500 compensation, in addition $3,589.77 lost wages.

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