Nanny gets $4000 humiliation payout over wrongful dismissal

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013

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A disgruntled nanny who worked casually for a Wanaka woman has won her case for unjustifiable dismissal.

The Employment Relations Authority ordered Carrie O'Brien, of Wanaka, to pay Kate Fisher, of Christchurch, $1779 to recompense lost wages and $4000 for humiliation and loss of dignity for her dismissal in June 2011.

The arrangement was casual. The pair were introduced by a mutual friend after Ms Fisher moved to Wanaka looking for a job as a nanny.

Ms O'Brien had five children and the pair talked informally about an arrangement and Ms Fisher started picking children up after school.

However, the children complained about her driving and said she swore, which she denied.

Eventually a "family meeting" was called by Ms O'Brien to discuss the driving and she told the children it was not OK to ignore Ms Fisher.

On June 22, while the O'Briens went to dinner, there was a disagreement that led to Ms Fisher and one of the youngsters telephoning Ms O'Brien.

Ms O'Brien cancelled the arrangement by text the next morning. Ms Fisher was extremely upset and told the authority she had no recollection of a discussion about why the arrangement was at an end, but did not deny it happened.

Authority member Mike Loftus said there were two issues - the nature of the relationship and, assuming there was an ongoing agreement, the justification in ending the arrangement.

An agreement was reached for Ms Fisher to clean each Monday, so an element of regular work was introduced, he said.

Mr Loftus concluded Ms Fisher had a relationship with Ms O'Brien and the decision to terminate was a dismissal, meaning the employer was required to justify her decision.

Ms O'Brien had no knowledge of employment law. However, this did not excuse significant deficiencies that ignored principles of natural justice, he said. There was no raising of concerns, no discussion, and no bid to ascertain what happened, why or when the decision to dismiss was made.

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- The Southland Times

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