Dunedin cleaner awarded $11,000

The Employment Relations Authority has awarded a Dunedin cleaner $10,983.80 for her unjustified dismissal.

The authority determined Sally-Ann Dalliessi was unjustifiably dismissed in May this year by ISS Facility Services Ltd, following an incident in April.

Ms Dalliessi worked for ISS as a cleaner at Dunedin Hospital. One day at work she saw a bed being pushed out of a lift, carrying the body of the manager of the hospital kitchen.

As she continued her duties, she came to the kitchen area, entered the office and told an employee the kitchen manager was dead.

When Southern District Health Board general manager for diagnostic and support services Sonja Dillon arrived later to inform the kitchen staff about their manager, she was told Ms Dalliessi had passed on the news earlier.

Ms Dillon told ISS health services manager Timothy Auld Ms Dalliessi's behaviour was "inappropriate" and "breached confidentiality".

Following an investigation and disciplinary meeting, Ms Dalliessi was dismissed on the grounds she breached privacy and confidentiality, her explanation was unreasonable, she could no longer be trusted in relation to confidentiality, and a similar concern had been discussed with her in January 2009.

However, authority member Michael Loftus determined there were "deficiencies" in the investigation, namely that the kitchen manager's face was uncovered at the request of the manager's partner, so it was arguable confidentiality had been waived, and there was evidence another employee announced the manager's death soon after Ms Dalliessi told another employee, although there was no evidence either of these points were investigated.

Mr Loftus also believed it was inappropriate to consider Ms Dalliessi's previous breach of confidentiality, as it was more than two years earlier.

He determined the dismissal was "not fair and reasonable", as "there are factors that suggest the inquiry was narrow in scope, procedurally deficient, and that the outcome was, effectively, a fait accompli".

Ms Dalliessi sought reinstatement, lost wages and compensation for hurt and humiliation.

Mr Loftus ordered she be paid $6983.80 in lost wages, and a further $4000 for humiliation, loss of dignity and hurt feelings. She was not reinstated.

• In another Employment Relations Authority case involving a cleaner, Jonathan Kent South's personal grievance against his former employer, Stab in the Dark Ltd, was determined to be unproven.

Mr South worked as a cleaner at the Captain Cook Tavern, owned and operated by Stab in the Dark, when one of the principals, Richard McLeod, contacted him in October last year about "till variations". There was video footage of Mr South near the tills in question, an area Mr McLeod argued he should not be.

When Mr McLeod called Mr South to discuss the situation, Mr South alleged Mr McLeod talked of two options - resign, or the matter would be taken further.

Mr South believed by taking it further, Mr McLeod meant he would contact the police, and so he resigned.

However, Mr McLeod denied giving the ultimatum, and rather believed a formal disciplinary meeting was required, as Mr South could not provide explanation for his actions on the spot.

Mr McLeod urged Mr South not to resign and attempted to contact him to set up the disciplinary meeting.

Authority member James Crichton determined that Mr South was "exclusively the architect of his own misfortunes" by not responding to an opportunity to explain himself, or to engage with his employer in a formal manner.


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