Restaurateur cleared to pursue case over dismissal

Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013

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A restaurateur has been granted leave to pursue a constructive dismissal claim against Mt Rosa Estates.

Employment Relations Authority member Mike Loftus said John Walker could proceed with a grievance against the firm, run by Queenstown businessman Stephen Laing.

A decision said Mr Walker was engaged by one of Mr Laing's companies to re-brand a Frankton restaurant and bar, Liquid Frankton.

In 2009, Mr Laing bought two businesses in Wanaka and Mr Walker said he was transferred to oversee rebranding of the Wanaka Alehouse and Liquid Wanaka. Mr Walker was then appointed general manager of four establishments, but there was uncertainty regarding which company was the employer.

In 2010, Mr Walker was appointed to manage a vineyard, then appointed manager of another Laing company, a Dunedin boat-building firm.

Mr Walker told the authority his duties included introducing employment agreements and he raised his own situation regarding terms and conditions with Mr Laing, the decision says.

He said he was instructed to draft a new employment agreement with Mt Rosa as the employer but the document was not signed by Mr Laing, who said he intended to apportion Mr Walker's salary between entities on a pro rata basis. However, an accounting firm denied this and said the instruction was to pay Mr Walker through Mt Rosa.

The authority said Mr Walker wanted to identify an entity capable of a payout, but Mr Laing sought to establish the employment entity as one in liquidation because a claim would be precluded under the Companies Act.

Mr Loftus concluded Mr Walker was employed by Mt Rosa.

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- The Southland Times

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