A former Witt staff member has fired accusations of unfair dismissal at the Taranaki polytechnic.
Angela Parr, former personal assistant of previous chief executive Richard Handley, has lodged a personal grievance with the Employment Relations Authority claiming her dismissal was unjustified, her union has said.
She is now seeking compensation for the loss of salary and for hurt and humiliation.
Witt employment consultant Rod Lingard said there were reasons Ms Parr was dismissed and he was disappointed the situation had become public.
Ms Parr had her "employment terminated" via email in May, Peter Joseph, the chief executive of Tertiary Institutes Allied Staff Association (Tiasa) said.
Her termination came six weeks after Mr Handley left the institute amidst controversy over the Witt council decision not to automatically extend his contract.
Mr Joseph said after six days as acting chief executive, Dr Jan Lockett-Kay wrote to Ms Parr listing concerns she and Witt council chairwoman Mary Bourke had about the PA's behaviour.
"The letter raised issues going back more than a year, including a formal action that Angela took as a result of Ms Bourke's behaviour towards her, that resulted in Ms Bourke writing a letter of apology," Mr Joseph said.
Mr Lingard confirmed this and said the letter also included allegations of serious misconduct, which Ms Parr could not justify.
"There was a proper employment investigation. A number of allegations were put to Ms Parr and a lot more material became available about some of the concerns Dr Lockett-Kay had raised.
"She [Ms Parr] was given more than ample opportunity to provide an explanation for these," Mr Lingard said.
Mediation took place between the two parties but the issue could not be resolved, he said.
Ms Parr's employment was then terminated via email on the evening before she left the country for a holiday, Mr Joseph said.
"Dr Lockett-Kay was aware Angela was leaving for [a] holiday in Europe the next day as it had been planned and leave approved many weeks before.
"Tiasa believes that this is an appalling situation Angela has been put through," he said.
Mr Lingard said there were five cases of serious misconduct that resulted in Ms Parr having her employment terminated.
Those included interference with the chairwoman's privacy, two breaches of her duty not to undermine her employer, unprofessional conduct and unacceptable behaviour.
Mr Joseph said the action was being taken against Dr Lockett-Kay as Ms Parr was employed by the CE, not by Ms Bourke or the Witt council.
Last week the Taranaki Daily News revealed Witt had spent $130,691 on legal and consultancy fees this year, including $54,235 for legal advice about Mr Handley and his employment.
However, there was currently no court case pending between Ms Parr and the institute, Mr Lingard said.
"Not that we are aware anyway. We don't know where this will go. We are very reluctant to make any comment at all but Dr Lockett-Kay feels she's got no choice," Mr Lingard said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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