A man who claims he was assaulted, underpaid and sacked by his brother has won a two-year battle for compensation, being awarded more than $100,000.
Graeme Meroiti began working for his brother John Meroiti and sister-in-law Jill Meroiti at Lindale Lodge in Paraparaumu in October 2009 after returning from Australia, where he had lived for several years.
He was provided accommodation at the motel and was paid $350 a week for jobs including security, helping in the office and cleaning.
But the relationship soured in August 2011, when Graeme claimed John arrived in work "in a bad mood".
After throwing a key at him and pushing him against the wall, John told Graeme he was fired.
Graeme took his case for unfair dismissal to the Employment Relations Authority, who declined the claim last year after ruling he was a contractor, rather than an employee, and the accommodation provided was a "family kindness".
But earlier this year Graeme appealed the decision to the Employment Court, with Judge Anthony Ford overturning the authority's ruling.
Giving evidence at court, Graeme denied he had signed a contract for services produced by his brother.
The back signature page did not fold like the rest of the pages and had different numbering, as well as different fonts, layout and typeface.
John and his wife did not appear in court, with Judge Ford ruling that Graeme's evidence was convincing.
"I find it highly improbable that Mr Meroiti would have agreed, or for that matter would have been asked, to enter into a contract for services in an area of work which he had absolutely no previous experience in."
Following the decision, Graeme returned to the ERA, again claiming unjustifiable dismissal and the difference between his $350 weekly salary and the minimum wage.
John and his wife failed to appear once more at the hearing, with authority member Paul Stapp this time ruling in Graeme's favour.
"John initiated the employment ending for no apparent reason, except as a retaliation following a reasonable request from Graeme about John's behaviour," Stapp said.
He ordered Lindale Lodge to pay Graeme $86,935 in wage arrears, $7702 in holiday pay, $17,745 in lost wages following the dismissal and $6000 compensation.
- © Fairfax NZ News