A retirement village worker sacked for canoodling with a former staff member was unfairly dismissed, the Employment Relations Authority has ruled.
Deborah Hoff, a senior caregiver at The Wood Retirement Village in Nelson, was caught kissing and cuddling with a former employee, an authority decision said today.
In April 2011, after she knocked off at 3pm, Mrs Hoff used the master key to let the staff member into Studio 3 so he could water the plants on the balcony.
Meanwhile, a prospective family had decided to view the room without an appointment. The receptionist took the family to Studio 3 for the viewing, and found the door unlocked. Mrs Hoff’s keys and the man’s glasses were on the bed, but they were nowhere to be found.
Mrs Hoff was discovered hiding behind the partially-open bathroom door.
The receptionist hurried the potential clients out, and reported the incident.
The village was abuzz with gossip about the alleged affair, with many staff saying they had witnessed or heard of occasions when Mrs Hoff and the man had been caught kissing and cuddling.
Mrs Hoff told a disciplinary meeting she was just gossiping with the man, and had a ‘‘silly moment’’ when she hid.
The home’s general manager said the incident was a serious breach of the company’s rules and she hadno confidence in Mrs Hoff to be a senior caregiver.
However, David Appleton from the Employment Relations Authority, found she was unfairly fired because of procedural reasons. The manager did not interview the man before the disciplinary meeting, and failed to let Mrs Hoff talk about the stress she felt having just lost her mother.
Mr Appleton said he thought Mrs Hoff and the man were ‘‘more likely than not’’ kissing and cuddling, or at least hugging.
He ordered the village to pay Mrs Hoff, who has since got another job, over $6000 in remedies.
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