The dismissal of a former disability charity manager who disputed an Employment Relations Authority ruling was unjustified, an Employment Court judge says.
William Stuart Clark, also known as Nobby, appealed against an authority decision of May 2010, claiming he was dismissed unjustifiably as the Southland/Gore area manager for Idea Services Ltd (ISL).
The national charity supports people with disabilities to live in their communities.
Employment Court Chief Judge Graeme Colgan heard the case in Invercargill in 2011 but a decision was not possible until last month because of delays caused by the Canterbury earthquakes.
The judge reconsidered all the evidence and notes because of the time delay.
Mr Clark was dismissed in April 2009 after a letter from his general manager, Tracey Ramsay, who said he had failed to follow policies, actions in relation to clients' living arrangements were inappropriate, communication was an issue, there were unacceptable comments about superiors and he failed to follow instructions.
He was summarily dismissed on April 28, 2009.
Judge Colgan said Mr Clark was in the job for a short time and the ethos and corporate structure differed from previous roles.
Concerns were raised about his performance and complaints were received from ISL clients.
At a meeting with a senior manager, Mr Clark unrestrainedly criticised the ISL management, organisation, structures and systems. The meeting was reported to Ms Ramsay and he was suspended.
By May, Mr Clark had objected to his manager's involvement in his dismissal and lodged proceedings with the Employment Relations Authority.
The authority concluded ISL's loss of trust and confidence in Mr Clark and summary dismissal were justified. The judge said ISL was entitled to and insisted upon highly prescriptive management and was justified in insisting on strict adherence.
However, such a procedure cut both ways, and ISL failed to deal with performance failings, the decision said. "A fair and reasonable employer would have treated many of the circumstances for which Mr Clark was dismissed as performance issues and would not have lumped them together with misconduct instances."
If all relevant human resources policies were followed, then ISL would not have summarily dismissed Mr Clark, and a fair employer would not have allowed Ms Ramsay to occupy conflicted roles of complainant and decision-maker, the judge said.
In conclusion, the court said Mr Clark was culpable regarding circumstances leading to the dismissal and, therefore, a modest and reduced award of $15,500 was applicable.
Mr Clark could not be contacted yesterday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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