Auckland tradesman gets $22,000 payout after flirting accusations

builder with yellow helmet and working gloves on building site
Photo credit: File

An Auckland tradesman has been awarded over $22,000 after it was determined he was unfairly dismissed from his job for allegedly flirting with a customer. 

Samuel Newman, 22, will receive $22,875 in compensation by his former employer Solid Roofing after the Employment Relations Authority found that he had been unjustly dismissed from his assistant roofing position. 

Mr Newman says he received a written warning on January 15 following a complaint by a customer who reported "unprofessional behaviour", court documents show. Mr Newman was then fired by his boss, Solid Roofing director Peter Vandenberg, during a heated phone call. 

Mr Newman had a meeting with his boss in January to discuss a job he had been working on in the Auckland suburb of Cockle Bay with his supervisor Jamie Cameron. The customer had told Mr Vandenberg about dissatisfaction with the job and discussed alleged flirting between the customer and Mr Newman. 

The female customer is said to have invited Mr Newman in for drinks and snacks, but he says he refused her and accepted just a glass of water. But Mr Newman's boss received a call from the customer's husband inquiring about the alleged flirting between Mr Newman and the customer. 

Mr Newman denied any wrongdoing and said it was not discussed during his meeting with Mr Vandenberg. The ruling outlined that the customer's husband was annoyed by the attention his wife was paying to Newman and Cameron working with their shirts off. 

The authority determined that Mr Vandenberg should have looked into the incident more before dismissing his employee. An authority member said the "reasons and manner of the written warning were not the actions of a fair and reasonable employer". 

"Mr Vandenberg acted in careless disregard of his obligations as an employer to Mr Newman. Mr Vandenberg failed to treat Mr Newman in good faith and failed to provide him with wages and time records when requested," Ms Fitzgibbon said. 

Mr Newman says he felt humiliated by the ordeal and suffered from loss of appetite, stress, and sleep loss. Mr Vandenberg's actions against Mr Newman impacted him "physically, mentally," said Ms Fitzgibbon. 

Mr Vandenberg says he plans to appeal the ruling, as he feels the authority was biased towards Mr Newman. 


Contact Newshub with your story tips: