Sacked students' union worker vindicated

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:01 08/01/2014

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Accusations from the ousted president of Massey University Extramural Students' Society that the organisation's troubles were due to an ex-employee's actions have been thrown out by new management.

The society's former communications manager, Adam Dodd, was fired in September by then-president Jeannette "JV" Chapman for "serious misconduct".

She alleged Mr Dodd was responsible for negative media coverage and ensuing problems for the embattled student union.

Mr Dodd raised a personal grievance against EXMSS and lodged a complaint with the Employment Relations Authority for unjustified dismissal.

A representative for Ms Chapman, lawyer Russell Ward, filed a counter-claim for "damages" against Mr Dodd - claiming he had caused the "demise" of the society, citing bad press, job redundancies, lost contracts and funding cuts, arbitrator Jenny Murphy, the director of Employment Dispute Resolution, representing Mr Dodd, said.

Mr Ward declined to comment yesterday.

This week Mr Dodd was cleared by EXMSS' new co-presidents Mark Lester and Tiri Porter of accusations laid on behalf of the student union under Ms Chapman's leadership.

A motion of no-confidence was held on her presidency last year at a member-initiated special general meeting and Mr Lester and Ms Porter were elected to replace her.

Yesterday they rescinded all blame laid on Mr Dodd, saying the reasons for dismissing him lacked substance and Ms Chapman had "breached good faith requirements by not treating him fairly".

"It's been part of a long journey and this is an outcome that is fair to both parties," Mr Lester said.

Mr Dodd said he was glad to have the matter resolved and hoped his reputation could be restored.

"It's a relief to be cleared of any wrongdoing, but I'm horrified at what has befallen EXMSS over the last year."

Former executive member Shane Field, who was co-opted by Ms Chapman but stood down from his position in protest against Mr Dodd's sacking, said it was a welcome and overdue result.

"One of my last activities as an EXMSS executive member was to sit in on the meeting with JV, Anne Palmer [EXMSS' former Greater Manawatu area representative] and Adam. JV put her case forward for his suspension - I felt it wasn't a case at all - [she then] gave me the job of escorting him from the building.

"I don't think I'd ever felt so rotten in my life."

The settlement agreement was reached outside of court. He is now redundant, along with other EXMSS staff, after Massey University canned service contracts with the union last year.

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Other details regarding the settlement have been kept quiet, with those involved citing confidentiality.

The Manawatu Standard has repeatedly tried to contact Ms Chapman for comment, but she has not returned calls, has since left her office and her landline and cellphone have been disconnected.

She refused to respond to queries about Mr Dodd when the employment dispute was first raised.

- Manawatu Standard

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