A motorcycle postman was unfairly dismissed after being spotted by a his manager weaving eratically and using his cellphone on Petone Esplanade, the Employment Relations Authority has found.
New Zealand Post was ordered to pay Murray McLennan $4900 compensation for his dismissal on May 14 last year, plus $5110 in lost wages.
Management failed to fully investigate the allegations or to follow its own rules when dismissing McLennan, the authority found.
McLennan, who had 17 years of experience delivering mail, had a complaint laid against him by then-general manager of delivery, Toby Beaglehole, for his conduct while driving his work scooter.
Beaglehole saw McLennan on April 29 weaving across Petone Esplanade, riding one-handed in blustery conditions, tailgating and stopping erratically.
McLennan also used his mobile phone on the bike, had his mail panniers unsecured, and was wearing incorrect uniform, Beaglehole said.
In an email to HR that sparked McLennan's sacking, Beaglehole wrote he was ''astonished [McLennan] was working for us''.
The tone of that email influenced a subsequent employment investigation by NZ Post's regional manager, Trent Butchart, the employment authority found.
''He appeared to accept Mr Beaglehole's comments on Mr McLennan's explanations without due scrutiny.''
McLennan said his weaving was due to the strong wind that day, which had also lifted the velcro flaps on his mail panniers. There was no danger of the mail coming loose, he said.
Managers examined the velcro and said it was strong enough to stay closed in high winds, but did not ask other posties to describe how the velcro held up to winds, the authority said.
McLennan rode one-handed because wind had blown grit into his contact lens, and he needed to rub his eye to remove it, he said.
Butchart unreasonably argued McLennan should have driven to the side of the road before rubbing his eye, the authority found.
McLennan said the item of uniform complained about was given to him by NZ Post and he had worn it before without comment from management.
The employment authority criticised McLennan for illegally checking his mobile phone while stopped at a traffic light, but the misconduct was not serious enough to justify his dismissal, it found.
At a disciplinary meeting on April 30, McLennan had asked about bringing a support person but was told, wrongly, he did not require a representative.
He later got a letter from his employers laying out his breaches of safety law, and had just one day to prepare for another disciplinary meeting. He was dismissed at a third meeting two days after that.
- The Dominion Post
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