Worker accused of theft awarded $17k

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 10:20 28/11/2012

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A Christchurch woman fired after being accused of misusing a company credit card has been awarded $17,000.

Atarangi Glen was dismissed from her role as financial manager at Wigram Manor Function Centre last year because of "alleged theft, fraud, and general misappropriation of funds".

In her function centre role, she was paid by Wilfred Investment Limited (WIL).

In an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision this month, member Helen Doyle ruled Glen had been unjustifiably dismissed by WIL and had not ''deliberately co-mingled funds''.

In 2011, Wilfred Investment director Harmon Wilfred made Glen redundant after her hours were reduced and he believed she would not work for less than 40 hours per week.

However, while working out her notice period, Glen received an email from Wilfred dismissing her immediately.

He said there had been a "discovery" of unauthorised removal of funds from WIL's bank account to Glen's credit card.

After the notice of her redundancy, Glen had paid off some money outstanding on her work credit card, which she had been told to use for the day-to-day running of the business.

Wilfred believed "some of the expenses claimed were for purchases for other companies and not just WIL".

He said Glen's explanation the card had been used for work purchases was "unacceptable".

Glen was then told to pack up her office and leave.

Wilfred complained to police that Glen had stolen company property.

Glen said she did have some documents at home and they were returned to Wigram Manor.

Some witnesses thought Glen had "co-operated and colluded in alleged theft, fraud, and general misappropriation of funds", Doyle said.

In her decision, Doyle ruled Glen had been unjustifiably dismissed and ordered WIL to pay Glen $8372 in lost wages and $9000 in compensation for humiliation and loss of dignity.

She believed Glen had not misused the credit card.

Doyle said the evidence against Glen had been based on ''matters that on the surface appeared suspicious but for which there may have been a perfectly adequate explanation''.

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