Woman who did not reveal theft charge to new boss awarded $7000

A Nelson woman has been awarded $7000 by the Employment Relations Authority which ruled  she was unjustifiably dismissed ...

A Nelson woman has been awarded $7000 by the Employment Relations Authority which ruled she was unjustifiably dismissed by Nelson skin clinic Enhanceskin.

A receptionist who failed to disclose a theft charge on her CV was awarded $7000 in compensation despite never starting her new job at a beauty clinic.

In September 2015, the woman, whose name was suppressed, accepted an offer of employment with Nelson skin clinic Enhanceskin.

The administration role was listed on the website of recruitment firm Intepeople, which was acting as an agent for the company. 

Following interviews and testing with Intepeople, the woman was informed that she was Enhanceskin's preferred candidate and underwent a police check.

An employment agreement was signed on September 4 and the woman agreed to start work on September 21.

After the woman made a visit to Enhanceskin, the company's receptionist told owner David Orsbourn she recognised the woman and believed there was an issue with her previous employment, which involved cash going missing and criminal charges.

The alleged theft stemmed from a period when the woman worked at a pre-school between December 2008 and November 2009.

The woman was not dismissed, but resigned from the pre-school during an investigation.

 The woman was charged with theft in May 2010, but the charge was dismissed by the district court in 2012, owing to insufficient evidence. 

Orsbourn spoke with the pre-school's owner at the time who confirmed there were issues relating to the woman's employment. He then found that period of employment had been left out of the woman's CV.

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He contacted Intepeople and said he could not employ the woman. Intepeople promised to deal with the situation.

The ERA heard Intepeople initially told the receptionist that Enhanceskin had changed its minds and wanted to hire a registered nurse to cover reception. 

She met with Intepeople later who said the job offer was withdrawn as Enhanceskin knew of the theft claims.

The woman said she tried to explain the theft charge was successfully defended, but was two days later received a letter from Enhanceskin, confirming the job offer was withdrawn. 

The woman said the withdrawal of the offer amounted to an unjustified dismissal under the Employment Relations Act and no fair processes were carried out.

However, Enhanceskin said the woman had misled it and it relied on those misrepresentations when it offered her the job.

It had also relied on Intepeople which had handled withdrawing the job offer. 

Authority member Peter Van Keulen said as the job offer was concluded and accepted Enhanceskin could not withdraw it.

It could have cancelled the offer under contractual law, but did not do this.

Van Keulen said he was satisfied the woman was employed by Enchanceskin and it did not carry out a fair dismissal by trying to understand what had happened when she was employed at the pre-school.

The woman accepted that she had left out employment details from her CV, but said did not see the point in listing it and only included "relevant employment experience."

However, Van Keulen argued it was more likely she had decided not to disclose information that could have provided an "unfair and unwarranted influence" on a potential employer.

He said if the theft charges had been discussed a fair and reasonable employer would not have concluded the woman had misrepresented her history.

And even if they had found she had misrepresented her past: "I cannot say that when presented with the woman's explanation a fair and reasonable employer could still have dismissed."

However, he also noted that the woman had incorrectly signed a declaration in her employment agreement that all information provided was accurate and not misleading. 

For this it was determined that the woman's compensation was reduced by 25 per cent.  

"As she was applying for a position requiring trust and honesty, [she] should have shown that trust and honesty by disclosing a matter in her employment history that may have reflected on her badly, rather than hiding it," Van Keulen said.

"For this reason, the failure to disclose was blameworthy or culpable."

Van Keulen awarded the woman $6,000 in compensation, as well as $1,684.80 in lost remuneration.

 - Stuff

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