Fired mechanic wins $10k compensation

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 07:45 15/11/2012

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A Christchurch mechanic has been awarded $10,000 in compensation after he was fired for failing to notice a fault that "could have caused a serious accident".

In an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision, member David Appleton ruled that Blackwell Motors unjustifiably dismissed Jenkin Liu in April last year.

Liu had been a mechanic for 30 years and specialised in servicing trucks. He had worked for Blackwells for more than 15 years and had never had any warnings.

In April last year, Liu inspected a Mack truck for a pre-certificate of fitness. He said the truck failed because the king pins needed to be repaired.

Liu did some minor work on the truck, but was not able to replace the pins because the truck was given back to the owner before the new parts arrived.

Three days later, the truck was taken back to the company because part of the wheel bearing had disintegrated.

"This was regarded as a serious fault by the respondent which could have caused a serious accident," Appleton said.

Liu said he had spun the wheels of the truck to test them and did not find any problems.

However, his bosses felt he was lying about spinning the wheels as that would have detected such a serious fault.

After a meeting and several letters, Liu was fired.

Appleton found Blackwell Motors had not followed correct procedure in firing him.

"I believe it was not responsible for [Blackwell Motors] to rely solely on the wheel-spinning test and their belief that Mr Liu failed to conduct it in their decision to dismiss him," he said.

"I do not believe the respondent was reasonable in concluding that Mr Liu was simply lying when he said he had spun the wheel."

Liu was awarded $10,000 compensation and $35,120 in lost wages.

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