Fired hairdresser's ill brother 'didn't exist'

Last updated 10:54 29/01/2013

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A hairdresser whose pay dropped from $25 an hour to $13.50 and who took time off to be with her "dangerously ill" brother - whom her employer claimed didn't exist - has won an employment dispute.

Jaleace Ormsby was employed by Effex Hair And Beauty in January 2012 and complained to the Employment Relations Authority that she was unjustifiably dismissed after being fired via text message in August of that year.

The authority heard Ormsby was originally paid $25 an hour, but that was reduced by agreement to $18 within a week of her starting at the Papakura business because she was "not sufficiently experienced to justify" the higher rate.

Effex claimed Ormsby began to lose focus on her job "early into the employment".

The company said she was regularly late, took extensive sick leave, often asked for wage advances "because of cash flow problems" and took advantage of her co-workers financially which "became increasingly problematic".

The authority heard in July an Effex manager had to cancel a family holiday because Ormsby said her brother was "dangerously ill" in Wellington and she needed to be at his side. Effex didn't believe Ormsby had a sick brother, let alone one "at death's door".

After returning from Wellington, on 1 August, Ormsby's pay was further reduced to $13.50 an hour by agreement, reflecting "continuing deficits" in her performance.
 
Effex claimed she then left the workplace and didn't return until the following week.

At 11.30pm on 7 August, Ormsby was fired by text message.

In a recently released decision the authority found Ormsby was unjustifiably dismissed and was given no indication her job was at risk: "A dismissal by text message, whatever the circumstances, will always be difficult to justify."

It also found there was little evidence of any disciplinary claims against Ormsby. The only record was a note about her and her partner behaving unacceptably at a work business function.

Ormsby claimed she was owed wages, sick leave and holiday pay and also queried the way Effex paid her tax.

Although finding in Ormsby's favour the authority found she had "contributed materially to the circumstances" which led to her sacking so cut any payout she'd receive in half.

Ormsby was awarded $500.

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- Auckland Now

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