Axed Queenstown tradie wins $24k

A Queenstown carpenter told he no longer had a job while he was overseas at a close relative's funeral has won $24,500 in an Employment Relations Authority case.

Elija Senice began working for labour hire company BF7 Trading in September last year and was sent to a Queenstown construction site.

He was later asked to work in Wanaka but the company agreed to reimburse his travel expenses.

In November last year Senice had to travel to Fiji to attend the funeral of a close relative and told the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) that when he didn't receive wages in his account as expected he called BF7.

He was then informed there was no more work for him at the company, he told the ERA.

Earlier this year he took a case to the ERA for unjustified dismissal. He also made a claim for compensation, his travel costs to Wanaka, as well as for unpaid wages and holiday pay.

BF7 did not file a reply to his claim, nor did the company have a representative at the ERA's investigation meeting.

ERA member Vicki Campbell proceeded with the case in BF7's absence.

Campbell said that Senice's dismissal was "immediate and abrupt".

"These defects were not minor and resulted in Mr Senice being treated unfairly," she said.

"In all the circumstances of this case BF7 has failed to act fairly and reasonably and the decision to dismiss Mr Senice was not an action an employer acting fairly and reasonably could have taken," she said.

Because of this, Senice was entitled to compensation and Campbell ordered BF7 to pay him $9008 in lost wages.

"The sudden termination of his employment was a shock because he had been promised ongoing employment and had moved from Auckland to Queenstown on the basis of that promise," Campbell said.

"He had taken the job in Queenstown because he wanted to provide long-term financial support for his daughter who lived in Auckland. The loss of his job meant he was no longer in a position to provide the necessary financial support," she said,

"Adding to his emotional distress was his inability to meet his cultural obligation to contribute to the expenses of the deceased's family," Campbell said.

"Further, he was unable to pay a hotel bill before he left Fiji. These factors added to his immense humiliation," she said.

Senice was awarded $10,000 in compensation for humiliation and loss of dignity.

He also was awarded $3121 in unpaid wages and holiday pay, $400 for his travel costs.

BF7 was also ordered to pay Senice a penalty of $2000.

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