Breaking confidentiality a costly mistake
An Auckland City Couriers worker who lost her job during a company restructuring has been ordered to pay her former employer $1000 for talking about the fact she had made a confidential settlement.
The day after reaching an agreement, Joss Priest spoke to a workmate about an unrelated matter and "inadvertently" mentioned the mediation, the Employment Relations Authority said.
By doing so, she broke a confidentiality clause which said she was not to talk about the settlement or anything discussed in mediation.
The ERA accepted that Priest thought she was behaving appropriately throughout, but supported her employer's argument that her indiscretion could not go unpunished.
There was a sense of irreparable damage, the Authority said, caused by the fact that ''the cat was out of the bag'' in terms of other workers affected by the restructuring.
''For obvious reasons, it did not suit [Auckland City Couriers] to have staff aware of the fact that it had engaged in a mediation with one of the affected staff members and by implication had settled with her on some basis or another,'' the authority said.
It said it was important in such situations that employees understood that confidentiality was ''not an arid or vacant construct'', but a real benefit to the party who sought it.
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