Compo winner fails to freeze ex-employer's assets

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2013

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An application by a Christchurch teenager to freeze the assets of the Leeston company ordered to pay him nearly $37,000 in compensation has failed.

The 18-year-old applicant had worked for the respondent, Kevin Hyde Engineering, for two periods between February 2011 and May 2012.

In September last year the teenager lodged a claim with the Employment Relations Authority, claiming he had been sexually harassed while employed with the firm.

In May this year the ERA ordered the engineering firm to pay the teenager more than $23,500 in unpaid and lost wages, and $12,000 in compensation and costs after finding he was subjected to sexual harassment during employment with the firm.

This month the teenager filed an application in the Employment Court for a freezing order over the assets of the company, but Judge Couch declined the application.

The judge held that there was no evidence that the respondent actually had any assets that might be affected by a freezing order. He found that evidence suggested that major assets of Hyde's business, in the form of the land and buildings from which the business was operating, were owned by a family trust and not by the respondent.

He said it also appeared that the business had ceased trading and was in the process of winding up, and he found there was no evidence that the business was profitable.

Although he found there was some evidence to suggest that if there were any funds left over after existing debts had been met, then Hyde might take that money to Australia, the judge held there was no evidence of such an intention.

Judge Couch dismissed the application on the basis that it was not in the interests of justice, saying that it was mainly because there was no reason to believe there were assets of the respondent to which an order could apply.

Kevin Hyde told The Press he was still considering his legal options and had met with his solicitor last week.

"The whole story just got blown way out of proportion," he said.

"It was a lot of banter between him and other work colleagues and wasn't actually anything to do with me personally and things have just gotten out of hand.

"Any young guy who gets the hump over something very small can effectively do this to anybody.

"He said things like he was hiding in the toilets and behind the workshops because he was being picked on . . . and yet . . . when we'd have drinks after work he'd hang round until 8 o'clock at night so it really doesn't make a lot of sense to me."

Hyde said the company was still trading, but as a "one-man band".

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"With this sort of stuff I'd never employ an employee again."

He said he had been in business for 18 years and employed more than 30 people, and never had a problem before.

"I've had eight apprentices and they've all completed their apprenticeships with me and I've never had a problem before," Hyde said.

He said he would decide this week what legal action to take.

- The Press

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