Feilding kitchenhand wins $12,500 after wrongful dismissal from Raw Sushi

May 21, 2019

A kitchenhand says $12,500 won't reverse the humiliation she felt when her boss fired her for taking approved annual leave. 



HR Matters Tip:

Annual holidays can be taken at any time agreed between the employee and the employer. Ensure that your employees are given their legal annual leave allowances, and that leave requests are not being denied unreasonably.

Sarah Beaney had worked at Sushi Raw in Feilding for five years before she was asked to cancel her Christmas holiday in 2017, just two days prior, because the shop was too busy. 


She agreed to cancel her plans on the condition she could take a week off in February 2018 to see her mother in Hawke's Bay. When owners Hyun Ji Kim and Jin Ho Nam asked Beaney to cancel that trip too, she refused. 


When she returned, Beaney said the two owners ignored her and informed other staff to do the same. She felt uneasy and awkward, and knew she was being punished for defying their orders. 


She was later handed a letter of dismissal at the end of a shift. 


Beaney took her case to the Employment Relations Authority, which last week released a decision stating she was unfairly fired for "insulting her elders" and "lost trust", and ordered Sushi Raw to pay $12,500 compensation. 


Now, she is urging others to hold their employer to account if they aren't being treated fairly. 


She encouraged workers to document everything, from text messages to contract disputes. It was also important to have a support person, or witness, at disciplinary meetings.  


"It wasn't so much about the money. It was about having a voice for myself and others to say it's not OK to be treated that way," she told Stuff.


"They said there was no problem when I applied for leave but, in that space of time, staff members left the store and they became understaffed." 


Nam told the authority he had asked Beaney to postpone her time off and described her refusal as "not pleasant". 


Distressed about her increasingly awkward work environment, Beaney talked to her mother, Jan Teikamata, who later visited the shop to ask why no-one was talking to her daughter.


Nam said Teikamata's behaviour was disruptive and he told her Kim was offended by Beaney's refusal to reduce her annual leave because, in her culture, elders were not disagreed with.


Nam then asked Beaney not to come into work, a request she ignored. 


When she arrived, Nam offered her a new employment agreement. But, the agreement stated Beaney was wrong to get her mother involved and that she needed to apologise.


"I think they were trying to bully me and get me to leave," Beaney said.


Some time after that, Beaney received a letter saying she had not provided customers with information about price rises on some products. Beaney was then dismissed via a written letter.


The authority disputed Nam's dismissal claims and found the firing was actually due to Beaney's decision to take time off. It stated she was entitled to take leave and that there was no evidence she had behaved inappropriately.


- Full Article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/112812477/feilding-kitchenhand-wins-12500-after-wrongful-dismissal-from-raw-sushi?cid=app-iPhone



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