Award of more than $50k over incident

More than $50,000 has been awarded to a Queenstown man for unfair dismissal after an incident in which he was chased out of the building by a company director.

Nigel Ede was wrongfully let go by insulation firm MAXRaft after a disagreement in a staff meeting turned ugly, David Beck of the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority found.

The incident occurred on March 13 last year when company director and general manager Henry Edney addressed staff at the firm office in Glenda Dr, Queenstown.

Mr Ede aired his views on workload, software updates and outsourcing.

He admitted he "flew off the handle" and then left the room "before he said something he would regret".

He was then pursued through the office and out of the building by Mr Edney and the pair argued before the manager all but told Mr Ede he was suspended.

A following email confirming the suspension said a preliminary investigation would be carried out, but Mr Beck found this did not occur.

A meeting was held between Mr Ede, Mr Edney and two other company directors six days later.

Mr Beck was unhappy Mr Edney was involved in the disciplinary process, and also said the general manager "should have more carefully analysed his contribution" to the "confrontation".

For his part, Mr Edney defended his decision to follow Mr Ede, claiming he wanted to ensure he "left safely as there were other employees working in the office he had to pass through to get out".

During the March 19 meeting, Mr Ede apologised for his actions, but the company directors thought this was insincere and "there was a high likelihood that this type of behaviour could happen again".

They later reconvened and decided to fire Mr Ede, failing to discuss any other form of disciplinary action.

In his decision, Mr Beck concluded it was not "fair and reasonable" to dismiss Mr Ede and his behaviour could "only be fairly deemed to be at best misconduct warranting perhaps a written warning with some attached conditions".

Mr Ede was unable to find alternative employment until September and thus lost $32,307.

His counsel sought $40,000 in compensation, but Mr Beck felt $25,000 was more appropriate.

The Employment Relations Authority member then reduced the sums by 10% for events that led up to the dismissal - which included outbursts by Mr Ede at a female colleague and a customer in February - and decided the company should pay $29,077 gross for lost wages and $22,500 compensation.

Mr Ede had justified his transgressions as down to workload stress, personality clashes and being out of character.

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