Sleeping porter wins unfair dismissal case

  • 19/04/2016
Sleeping porter wins unfair dismissal case

A Taranaki hotel porter fired after falling asleep on the night shift has won more than $5000 from her former employer for unfair dismissal.

Mereana Taylor was the only person on duty while about 40 guests were checked in at Tennent Hotels Limited's Devon Hotel in New Plymouth in May, 2014.

A few hours into her shift, which started at about 11pm, she sat down on a couch and dozed off.

She was found by kitchen staff on the morning shift after having to call their boss to let them into the building. She was dismissed a week later.

The Employment Relations Authority found she had probably been asleep for less than two hours.

Tennent Hotels told the authority Ms Taylor's actions were serious misconduct - because they compromised security, health and safety of guests - and merited dismissal.

But she told management she had been feeling unwell, had a sore back and needed to lie down.

The authority said a meeting during which Ms Taylor was given a formal warning was not fair because she wasn't given time to prepare.

They also said an email sent from managing director Peter Tennent to the general manager - in which he called the nap "unacceptable" - had prejudiced the investigation into Ms Taylor's conduct.

"Mr Tennent had predetermined that she had been asleep before he had spoken with her," the authority said.

"I have reservations over the extent of the investigation carried out and whether Ms Taylor's claims of her sore back or collapsing or fainting were explored at all as they appeared to have been quickly discounted."

He ordered the hotel to pay Ms Taylor three months wages and also sum for hurt and humiliation, totalling just under $5500.