No payout for unfairly fired worker

MICHELLE ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2013

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An Auckland woman was unfairly dismissed by the Life Education Trust but will get no pay out because she contributed to her sacking, the Employment Relations Authority has ruled.

Debra Wilson went to the authority after she was sacked from her role as an educator for the trust's Rodney branch following disputes over alleged bullying, an unroadworthy work car, leave and wages.

In its ruling, the authority said Wilson had resigned on November 30, 2011, alleging bullying by the trust's Education Liaison Committee chairman Bruce Davies, but agreed to work out a three month notice period.

However, before the notice was over Wilson was fired for alleged serious misconduct.

Problems began in October 2011 when Davies allegedly rang Wilson and yelled at her for not cleaning the carpet in her mobile classroom.

She responded that she had no car to access the classroom, as her work car had failed its warrant of fitness due to worn tyres and other defects.

Davies told Wilson she could have found other transport.

Wilson's partner heard the phone conversation and asked Davies to apologise, which he did by way of text, but Wilson was not satisfied.

She later emailed a letter of resignation to the committee citing ''irreconcilable differences'' and saying her last day of work would be January 30, 2012.

The email was circulated to, among others, National Life Education Trust chief executive John O'Connell who offered her support and $2000 towards legal fees.

Wilson eventually agreed to work through to February 29.

But before then she was fired after Davies alleged serious misconduct over a conversation she had with staff at Wilmont Motors in Warkworth, which Wilson disputed.
 
The ruling said the trust gave no specific details on the misconduct when Wilson asked for them.
 
She was off sick from work between December 9 and 23 and advised she had a medical certificate.
 
Wilson then failed to show up for work in January and February, saying she didn't know she had to. She said she was contactable during this period but Davies said she failed to respond to calls for 20 days.

Wilson asked for mediation but her contract was terminated.

''There was no opportunity for explanation given. No consideration of any explanation provided. Dismissal was immediate and unjustified,'' the authority found.

However, it ruled that as Wilson had been paid $7,242.00 from January 13 to February 29 by the trust despite not working, she would not receive compensation of $5,982 that she would otherwise have been awarded.

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