AC/DC drummer upsets staff

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 10:18 11/03/2014

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AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has been ordered to pay more than $72,000 after losing his temper and sacking three of his restaurant workers.

The employees, who worked at Phil's Place in Tauranga, were left so distressed and humiliated by the incident they became depressed, and struggled to find new employment, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) says.

In its decision released today, the ERA found Alice Kiwa, Janelle Kiwa and Hayden Clark were all unjustifiably dismissed by Rudd.

On July 18, 2012, Rudd went to his restaurant and asked Clark for an antipasto platter to be delivered to his boat, the ERA decision said.

But his security guard then came in and said the meal should be taken to Rudd's aircraft hangar instead.

An angry Rudd later kicked the back door of the restaurant in saying, "where is my f*****n meal?". He yelled at staff, "you're all f****n useless", "you're all f*****n fired" and told them to drop what they were doing.

He then kicked the rubbish tin and left the restaurant, slamming the door.

The Kiwas gathered their personal belongings and left the restaurant. However, there were still customers waiting to be served, so Clark and another employee remained, unsure what to do, the decision said.

Clark was told by the restaurant manager to "carry on", but shortly afterwards a security guard came in, told him to take his belongings, and escorted him off the premises.

Two days later at a meeting at Rudd's lawyer's office, his accountant apologised on his behalf. Alice and Janelle Kiwa could not attend that meeting.

Another meeting was held to discuss the future of the restaurant, and employees were told Rudd's preference was to close over the winter.

The Kiwas and Clark then received a letter advising their casual employment was terminated, and warned any breach of confidentiality provisions would be treated seriously.

The restaurant was then closed.

The accountant told the authority that prior to the July 18 incident Rudd had been keen to make the restaurant work, but the incident brought forward the options, including closing it.

ERA member Tania Tetitaha said: "The impression from [the accountant's] evidence was that the closure of the restaurant became an option to avoid the consequences of what occurred on July 18."

The restaurant had since been restructured and reopened.

Tetitaha described the dismissal as "abrupt and harsh", and Rudd's behaviour "scary and intimidating".

Alice Kiwa had been affected so badly she was diagnosed with depression and placed on a sickness benefit.

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It was "humiliating" having to borrow money from friends and relatives while she searched for jobs, and represented a "significant loss of mana and status", Tetitaha said.

Janelle Kiwa was made homeless as a result of the dismissal, and was also diagnosed with depression.

She had also been subjected to false accusations she had stolen from Rudd, which made it difficult for her to find new employment.

Clark was left in a similar position, and had to borrow significant amounts of money from friends and family to meet his commitments.

He had to leave town in order to secure employment in a "less advantageous job with reduced status".

Rudd denied the three were dismissed, but said even if they were dismissed, it was rectified by his apology through his accountant.

But Tetitaha said the apology was insincere.

"There was no evidence what the apology aimed to rectify other than attempt to excuse bad behaviour," she said.

"It did not appear to specifically address the hurt and humiliation these applicants had suffered."

For lost income, Phil's Place must pay Alice Kiwa $4872, Janelle Kiwa $4536 and Clark $9692.40. Each applicant would also receive $15,000 for distress, and a total $8500 in legal costs.

- Fairfax Media

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