Swearing worker wins compensation

Last updated 08:32 21/03/2013

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A meatworks employee who was sacked after swearing at supervisors and threatening his boss has been awarded $9000 after being unjustifiably dismissed.

Te Mauri Hita was employed as a boner at Silver Fern Farms in Dargaville and in June 2011 an altercation developed after the standard of his work was questioned.

When his supervisor Rick Wiperi said his bones were not being cleaned properly, Hita told him that was "bullshit".

He was warned about his swearing and told to settle down, to which he replied: "well f*** off then".

At a subsequent disciplinary hearing, Hita apologised for his "French" but in a further meeting a couple of weeks later he was sacked.

The Employment Relations Authority described it as "a case of bad language and appalling attitude" but there was a distinction between bad language and abuse.

Through evidence at the hearing it became clear swearing was common at the meatworks and it was normal for supervisors to swear at employees.

The authority ruled the company's investigation into Hita's conduct was cursory and any previous warnings he had been given were sketchy.

He would have been awarded $18,000 in compensation and remuneration but that figure was halved because of his inflammatory behaviour.

Through the employment hearing Hita accepted he told the assistant plant manager Laurie Davies: "outside after work, I'll be waiting for you" but denied it was a threat.

That explanation was rejected.

The authority denied his request to be reinstated to his former position saying his behaviour would probably continue and would create tension among staff.

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- Fairfax Media

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