Sacked Auckland translator wins $15k compensation

Naomi Keene was unjustifiably dismissed, the Employment Relations Authority has found.
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Naomi Keene was unjustifiably dismissed, the Employment Relations Authority has found.

Naomi Keene's job helped her boss get permanent New Zealand residency. Hours after getting residency, he fired her.

Keene has been awarded $15,400 after complaining to the Employment Relations Authority about the behaviour of her employer, former friend Taro Matsuno.

In 2012, Matsuno told Keene that employing a New Zealand citizen at his Japanese translation service, Link Technologies Company Limited, would assist in his application for permanent residency in New Zealand. She began working for him shortly afterwards. 

But in December 2014, Keene received an email from Matsuno with two bits of news.

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Matsuno first gave Keene the news he had been granted permanent residency.

Then he informed her that she would lose her job in January 2015 because of "quite severe" business conditions.

Keene told the Employment Relations Authority she felt "shocked and used" by Matsuno.

The two families had become friends after their daughters met at their primary school in Browns Bay on Auckland's North Shore, the authority's judgment read.

In late 2012 Matsuno started discussing the prospect of Keene working for him as a proofreader, and she began her employment with Link in January 2013.

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A year later she met with Matsuno, who showed her Link's accounts and told her the company was doing well. 

At no stage prior to Matsuno's December 2014 email was she informed the company was not performing, Keene said.

After her employment ended, she was unsuccessful in applying for two jobs and returned to study and caring for her three children.

Keene's husband Malcolm Keene said his wife was distressed and down over that time period, feeling used by Matsuno so he could obtain permanent residency.

The two families now avoided each other, Keene said.

The authority found Link had failed to properly notify and get a response from Keene around Link's viability and her dismissal was unjustified and not fair and reasonable.

Matsuno, who did not attend the authority's hearing, also failed to provide the authority with a written statement in reply to Keene's allegations, which the authority accepted. 

Matsuno emailed the authority to say he would not be participating because Link was no longer trading and was to be struck off.

However, the authority said a check of the Companies Office Register confirmed the company had not been struck off and appeared to be trading. 

Matsuno was ordered by the authority to pay Keene $10,000 in compensation and another $5400 for three months' lost wages.​​

*Note this article has been updated to clarify that Keene received only one email in December 2014, telling her that Matsuno had gained residency and that she was losing her job.

 

 - Stuff

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