Hotel boss gets $120,000 after dismissal

01:03, Apr 14 2009

Wellington property tycoons the Chow brothers have been ordered to pay a former hotel manager more than $100,000 after a long-running employment dispute.

John and Michael Chow are best known for owning the Il Bordello and Splash clubs.

The Employment Court found James Jesudhass was unfairly dismissed while in mediation over his job at the Chows' Just Hotel four years ago. The Willis St hotel has since changed hands.

Mr Jesudhass was employed as general manager of the hotel in September 2004. The job came with a car, a $50,000 salary, a $500 monthly bar tab and a $10,000 bonus tied to occupancy rates.

In a written decision, the court found John Chow had asked Mr Jesudhass to train his sister to be the assistant general manager, despite her having no hotel experience. Mr Jesudhass became concerned at Ms Chow's management style, which he said was causing stress.

The Chows hired migrant workers who could not speak English, and students without work permits, the decision said.

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In April 2005, Mr Jesudhass was told Sarah Dickens, Mr Chow's personal assistant, was sitting in reception and seemed to be monitoring staff. He told her she should have spoken to him first.

Soon after, Mr Jesudhass and the Chows went into mediation. He was suspended by John Chow on May 5, 2005 and told to leave the hotel immediately.

He was dismissed two weeks later, with Mr Chow citing unsatisfactory performance, failing to follow requests and refusal to attend meetings.

Judge Barrie Travis found the defendant, Just Hotel Ltd, had failed to show it had been a fair and reasonable employer. "The defendant's actions were both procedurally unfair and substantively unjustified."

He awarded Mr Jesudhass $119,237, including $68,000 in lost wages, $20,000 for loss of a car and $10,000 for distress.

John Chow said he had not read the decision and declined to comment. Mr Jesudhass is overseas. Son Jeremy said the family was pleased with the outcome.

The Dominion Post