A Kiwi woman has been awarded over $20,000 in compensation after she was "unjustifiably" fired from her job after her relationship with her boss ended.
A report by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) into the incident was released following the determination last week.
The names of the parties involved have been suppressed due to potential "adverse health effects" on the woman, who Newshub will call Nancy*.
Nancy told the ERA she had been involved in a personal relationship with a man, Steve*, in early February 2019 which led to her being given an administration role in his small business.
She claimed Steve had bought her a phone and said she could pay it off, and he could help her buy a car, if she worked for him.
For the next three to four weeks Nancy worked at the business part-time, for which she was paid in cash and goods but was not given a formal employment agreement.
However, Nancy became uncomfortable continuing the relationship after she started working for him.
After a "significant argument" between the couple in March 2019, Steve indicated he wanted nothing further to do with Nancy and told her to not return to the workplace.
But during the ERA hearing, Steve disputed Nancy's version of events, telling the authority she had not been an employee.
He claimed she visited his workplace with a friend to "hang out" and that any money and goods he gave her were gifts as part of their relationship.
He admitted Nancy had asked him "for a job" and indicated he would consider it, but said it was "unlikely I would employ her as I considered her a girlfriend only".
The ERA determined evidence that Steve purchased a phone for Nancy and that he suggested he could help her buy a car with her paying it back by working for him was indicative of an employment arrangement.
Nancy's friend also provided testimony, confirmed she had looked after Nancy's children when she was "at work" and had observed Nancy in the office answering phone calls and sending emails.
Steve and his co-worker claimed Nancy did not actually carry out any work directed by Steve, but that Nancy "did work of her own accord". However, he conceded Nancy did clean the workplace and made a client call at his direction.
The report also noted there was a "clear imbalance of bargaining power" between the parties and described Steve as a "mature and experienced businessman engaging in a personal relationship with a young, unemployed and vulnerable woman to whom he was holding out the prospect of long term employment".
The ERA concluded Nancy was an employee given Steve conceded he was considering formalising the work agreement.
It said Nancy was "unjustifiably dismissed" and awarded her three months of wages at 30 hours a week at the then-minimum wage of $17.70 (equalling $6903) and $18,000 in hurt and humiliation.
ERA also ordered details and names of the parties involved be suppressed due to potential "adverse health effects" on the woman.