Fired scientist's compensation bid fails

Last updated 12:52 23/01/2013

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A scientist who was fired for failing to control genetically engineered plants has been declined compensation.

In a decision released today, the Employment Relation Authority says Agresearch was justified in dismissing Dr Igor Kardailsky for serious misconduct on July 23.

Dr Kardailsky had been seeking damages for his dismissal, which he argues was unfair.

Agresearch says Dr Kardailsky, who worked at the Grasslands research complex in Palmerston North, allowed genetically engineered ryegrass to flower and potentially pollinate in violation of Government-imposed regulations.

The regulations are designed to prevent the spread of experimental genetically modified organisms, which could compromise New Zealand's other species.

The flowering occurred while Dr Kardailsky was on holiday. When a concerned colleague raised it via email, Dr Kardailsky asked her not to disrupt the grass for fear it could ruin his experiment.

The colleague removed the grass anyway, prompting Dr Kardailsky to send an email to his team leader in which he described the colleague as "malicious, ignorant and bullying".

The Primary Industries Ministry classified the breach as "critical noncompliant" - potentially a serious risk to New Zealand's biosecurity.

In December, Dr Kardailsky argued his dismissal was unjustified and it was never clear that he had breached regulations.

The authority disagreed, finding that Agresearch's investigation into the breach and Dr Kardailsky's subsequent dismissal was fair.

Contact Ben Heather
Social Issues reporter
Twitter: @BHeatherJourno

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