Embarrassed cleaner fired on the street awarded $23,000

August 15, 2019

A cleaner, who was sacked on the street after asking why her hours had been reduced, has been awarded $23,000 by the Employment Relations Authority.




HR Matters Tip:

Ensure that you have correct disciplinary processes in place and provide under-performing staff a reasonable opportunity to improve.

Kayleene​ Thorburn worked as a cleaner at Colliers Cleaning 2018 Limited from November 2017 until January this year. She found the job through Work and Income and normally started her shift between 5pm and 6pm.


Thorburn's boss and director of Colliers Cleaning Trevor Gill told the authority that he did not need to consult with employees before making changes that were best for his business.


After some issues with changes in her roster, Thorburn took three weeks' annual leave till January 14 at Gill's instigation, this year.


When she returned her hours had been cut again.


There was also a note on the notice board telling her that she needed to retrain because of "poor" cleaning standards.


Thorburn claimed Gill yelled at her that he had lost three jobs and that he had completed those jobs in half the time it had taken her.


A relative of Gill's told Thorburn she would receive a written warning the following day as her work was "no good". 


When Thorburn arrived at work the next day in her car, she claimed Gill came towards her "furiously", waving his arms and saying "don't get out".


He asked for her work keys and told her she not to come to work that night.

Gill dismissed her and in the heat of the moment she asked him if he wanted the work clothes she was wearing and began to take off her work top .


Thorburn said she was upset and embarrassed to have been dismissed in the street.


Colliers said it had dismissed her because she refused to retrain, although Thorburn had only questioned the changes to her hours. 


Authority member Trish MacKinnon preferred Thorburn's account of events.

MacKinnon said Gill was "belligerent in his conduct and language" and contradicted himself several times while giving evidence.


She said Gill also showed little understanding of employees rights.

"Thorburn's dismissal was entirely without process or forewarning. The dismissal was effected by her employer when he was in a state of agitation and anger.


"It could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as the act a fair and reasonable employer could have taken in all the circumstances at the time," MacKinnon said.


Thornburn said she suffered from stress and anxiety relating to her employment and its termination. 


Colliers Cleaning was ordered to pay Thorburn $23,204 in lost wages because she struggled to find work for 24 weeks.



- Full Article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/114999224/a-cleaner-fired-on-the-street-awarded-23000?cid=app-iPhone 


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