Auckland hair salon owner penalised $8000 by Employment Relations Authority for unjustified text message firing

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Hairdresser Jai Yi Li was fired over text message.
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Hair today, gone tomorrow: Hairdresser Jai Yi Li was fired over text message.

A hairdresser accused of cutting for the competition has been awarded $8000 for unfair dismissal.

Deepak Kapadia, the director of Hair Co and Beauty Co in the LynnMall Shopping Centre, west Auckland, was ordered to pay the sum to former employee Jai Yi Li after the Employment Relations Authority ruled her dismissal unjustified.

​Kapadia claimed he saw Li working for a competing salon across the road while she was on annual leave in September 2016, a decision released by the authority on Thursday said.

Kapadia told authority member Rachel Larmer he saw Li "cutting the hair of a white man" on a day he couldn't recall, at a time he couldn't recall.

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He then fired Li by text message and refused to speak to her or answer her calls.

Li strongly denied the claim, saying she never worked for the opposition and the dismissal had caused her "shock, humiliation and distress".

She said she had an unblemished track record from her 30 years in the industry and did not know why she had been treated so rudely.

Larmer agreed with Li, saying her evidence was more likely to be correct than Kapadia's account. 

Despite being pressed "very hard", Kapadia could not provide specific details about the alleged sighting.

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"I found Mr Kapadia not very forthcoming with his evidence about this," Larmer noted.

A month before the text message dismissal on August 8, Kapadia had told Li to leave the salon immediately. 

She told the hearing she was "confused and distressed" but Kapadia refused to answer her questions, calls or texts.

He then texted her on September 6, saying: "We do not need you to work for us anymore."

Kapadia told the hearing he was dissatisfied with Li as an employee and insisted she take four weeks holiday while he figured out what to do.

Larmer found Li's conduct as an employee was blameless, and that Kapadia had not acted fairly or in good faith.

She ordered a payment of $8000 compensation, $607 in unpaid wages and $1357 in legal fees.

Kapadia did not respond to a request for comment.

Li was subsequently employed by the competing hair salon.

 - Stuff

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