ERA orders Lyttelton port firm to pay $45,000 to worker fired for leaving early

The dismissal was found to be unjustified.
The dismissal was found to be unjustified. Photo credit: Getty

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Lyttelton Port Company Ltd to pay $45,000 to a worker fired for leaving early.

An ERA ruling says the company fired David Craig in 2018, a dismissal he claimed was unjustified.

The ruling says that last year, Craig and his family were under "considerable pressure" due to a close family member's health.

On April 5, 2018, the company discovered Craig had left a shift early. On the same day, he informed the logistics manager he had a headache earlier in the morning as his reason for leaving the shift.

According to the ruling, the company then decided to look at earlier gate records to see when Craig's vehicle was arriving and leaving. Action was then taken by the company's container terminal manager, Doug Parker, who wrote to Craig saying he must work his full rostered shifts.

Parker also told Craig in the letter that he needed to let the logistics shift manager know if he was unwell and needed to leave early.

Craig continued working and completing shifts until he was fired. Before this, he and his bosses held two meetings. Craig was asked to explain why he had left early on six occasions.

At the second meeting, Parker said a decision had not been made on whether Craig should be fired.

Finally, on May 7, 2018, Parker wrote to Craig confirming his dismissal.

"Mr Parker's letter directed Mr Craig to remain for his full shifts during the period of investigation. Mr Craig did so from then until the date of his dismissal: a period of a month," the ruling says.

"Mr Craig made an up-front admission of having done something wrong, in this case acknowledging that he had not exercised good judgement, partly because of extenuating personal circumstances."

The ERA says it doesn't accept the company had grounds to have "totally lost trust and confidence" in Craig.

The ruling ordered the company $45,093 in compensation for "humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to his feelings".

Craig's job must also be reinstated, the ruling says, and be provided with any training he may have had after his dismissal.