Air NZ loses Facebook employment fight

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 10:27 03/09/2013

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An Air New Zealand flight attendant forced to let her bosses examine her Facebook pages so they could check what she was up to on sick leave has won a battle over her former employers.

Gina Kensington, a long haul flight attendant, was sacked by Air New Zealand earlier this year following a dispute over sick leave she took to care for her sister.

She said she did not misuse sick leave and went to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) which, in a recently released decision, said she was unjustifiably dismissed.

In the decision it was outlined that in March Kensington took a day of sick leave to look after her sister who was unwell and had a new born baby.

Her bosses were unhappy about her taking the day and questioned whether it was legitimate.

She was asked to attend a formal disciplinary hearing and Air New Zealand also demanded to see her Facebook and bank details.

Kensington refused, saying it did not have that information when it dismissed her and that "it is well accepted in New Zealand there are general and legal privacy expectations about people's personal and financial information".

The ERA ordered she must hand over details for March 8 and 9 this year - saying they would provide "substantially helpful" evidence.

Written statements were also provided by Kensington's sister's midwife and by her husband and Kensington's sister was interviewed.

Following further action Kensington was dismissed on May 10.

The ERA found there was a full and fair investigation into Kensington's actions but that a "fair and reasonable employer could not have concluded Ms Kensington was untruthful about her sister being sick".

It found the dismissal of Kensington was not what a fair and reasonable employer could have done in the circumstances. It said the dismissal was unjustified.

Costs have yet to be decided by the authority said that Kensington could expect to have any compensation reduced significantly because her behaviour was "both causative and blameworthy".

Whether Kensington will be reinstated is yet to be determined.

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- Fairfax Media

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