Woman gets $48k payout after threats, abuse from boss over unpaid wages

The woman was forced to resign from her job at a furniture store in Newmarket.
The woman was forced to resign from her job at a furniture store in Newmarket. Photo credit: Getty/ file

A woman has been compensated almost $48,000 after experiencing "extremely threatening and aggressive" behaviour from her boss when she asked for her unpaid wages at a luxury furniture store.

Lairsa Taouksti was forced to resign from the now defunct Lorenz & Z furniture store in Newmarket, after she was threatened when she spoke up about unpaid wages, holiday pay and other employment benefits.

In a recently published decision, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found that Ms Taouksti's employer Tong Zhang "had repeatedly failed to address Ms Taouktsi's concerns about her wages being paid and her wages being paid on time".

In addition to problems with her wages, she was not paid holiday pay, was not told about or enrolled in the KiwiSaver scheme and was not reimbursed for work related travel expenses.

She continually raised the problems with Mr Zhang, who repeatedly ignored her requests until an eventual outburst on November 1 when she threatened to take legal action.

The next day, Ms Taouktsi said he came into the store and "began shouting at her about the wages and about 'the grief she was giving him about payment of her wages'," the ARA report reads.

"Ms Taouktsi says Mr Zhang shouted: 'How f**king dare you ask me for money? You threaten me with a f**king lawyer?! Just you go to a f**king lawyer and see what I f**king do to you. You have no idea what I am f**king capable of doing to you'.

"At this point, Ms Taouski says Mr Zhang was extremely threatening and aggressive."

She felt that she had no alternative but to resign from her position, and the ERA found that her resignation amounted to an unjustified constructive dismissal.

"It was unjustifiable and unfair for Mr Zhang to become angry when Ms Taouksti was simply seeking to be paid and to be paid on time," the decision said.

The furniture company has been ordered to make the following payments to Ms Taouksti: $20,000 compensation for her unjustified constructive dismissal, $5,159 in lost remuneration, $7,643.64 for unpaid wages, $9,476 for unpaid holiday pay, and $5,717.86 for KiwiSaver entitlements.

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