Swearing joiner legally sacked

Last updated 09:18 10/07/2014

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A joiner who refused to wear safety glasses and launched verbal tirades at his boss was legally sacked, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ruled.

Dunedin tradesman Craig Hall claimed he was unjustifiably dismissed by A Step Up Joinery Ltd. He had sought remedies of $24,000 for lost wages and "jeopardising his career".

But the ERA sided firmly with his employer.

In May 2012, Hall's supervisor and director of the company, Neil Rutherford, reminded Hall he needed to wear safety glasses at all times.

Rutherford made the same request three times over the next two weeks and bought two new types of glasses because Hall complained the old ones were uncomfortable.

A month after a verbal warning, the pattern of defiant behaviour continued, resulting in a confrontation between the pair.

"Get f....., you are a f...... c... and should stop this s.... I am not going to wear them," Hall told his boss.

Rutherford, who told the authority he felt threatened by the offensive language and the employee's behaviour, retreated to an office.

He later told Hall he was suspended without pay pending a disciplinary meeting a couple of days later.

The news prompted a similar expletive-laden rant in which Hall said he quit and called Rutherford "a w.....".

At a disciplinary meeting in June 2012, Hall rejected the company's allegations of serious misconduct.

He said he did not consider his language to be abusive, described the need to wear safety glasses as "ridiculous" and admitted he had drawn eyes on his goggles with a black marker "as a joke".

After brief consideration, Rutherford sacked him.

And in a ruling released this week, the ERA said his actions were justified.

Authority member Christine Hickey pointed out several areas where Hall contravened his employment agreement and said his actions amounted to "a destruction of the trust and confidence Mr Rutherford required".

Hall was ordered to pay $1000 costs to the company.

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