Dismissal of cafe cook ruled unjust

A Twizel cafe has had to pay out $7500 to a cook it unjustifiably dismissed last year.

The Employment Relations Authority decision ordered Pieter and Nyree Schaar of Lake Ohau Holdings, which owns the Musterers Hut Cafe, to pay Melissa Spence $7500 in compensation as she was "unjustifiably disadvantaged and unjustifiably dismissed".

Ms Spence was employed as part-time cook in August 2010.

On February 16 last year Ms Spence approached Mrs Schaar to find out how many hours a week she could expect as her hours during the summer had decreased. Mrs Schaar told her that she was difficult to work with when she was under pressure and other staff had said they were reluctant to work with her.

On February 19, Ms Spence was asked into the office for a private meeting and was told the company could no longer sustain her wages. She was given six weeks' notice of her redundancy.

Four weeks later Mr Schaar told Ms Spence to finish work and leave immediately. She asked why but an argument ensued.

Mrs Schaar came into the kitchen and Ms Spence walked toward her and asked why she was being dismissed. Mrs Schaar put out both of her arms and Ms Spence pushed backwards with her hands on top of Mrs Schaar's arms. Mrs Schaar says she was punched in the shoulder, but this was not proven.

ERA member Christine Hickey found the process used by the employers to make the cook redundant was inadequate and there was a lack of fair process.

The Timaru Herald