Christchurch sales manager awarded $55,000 after dismissal

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
Christchurch,
Publish Date
Friday, 21 December 2018, 11:06AM
The authority also heard how Whitfield was allegedly left off the payroll system after Christmas 2017 when all the other employees were loaded. Photo / NZ Herald
The authority also heard how Whitfield was allegedly left off the payroll system after Christmas 2017 when all the other employees were loaded. Photo / NZ Herald

A Christchurch man has been awarded more than $55,000 after he was constructively dismissed by his employer.

Rick Whitfield, a sales manager for Coffee Distributors Limited, went to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) over his employer's unjustified actions that led to the end of his employment in December last year.

Whitfield claimed Coffee Distributors breached the terms of his employment agreement by failing to negotiate a commission agreement with him.

Coffee Distributors told the authority that it was never in a financial position to agree upon a bonus with him and raised Whitfield's performance against his budget as another reason why an agreement was not negotiated.

In addition, Whitfield told the authority of three further adverse events.

Whitfield claims a week before Christmas he was asked to return his mobile phone and car during the Christmas period "in line with company policy", though he was not aware such company policy existed.

In response, Coffee Distributors said return of the mobile phone and car was necessary so the company could continue to receive client orders and deliver them.

Three days later, Whitfield claimed he discovered a signed agreement for a new commission-based sales representative, who was to undertake sales in a large part of Whitfield's sales territory.

Whitfield said he felt "completely sick" in finding the agreement.

Coffee Distributors said the new sales representative's role was designed to support Whitfield in his role, something Whitfield claimed he was not aware of.

The authority also heard how Whitfield was allegedly left off the payroll system after Christmas 2017 when all the other employees were loaded.

Coffee Distributors denied all of Whitfield's allegations and claims for compensation.

In its determination, the authority found Whitfield was unjustifiably constructively dismissed.

A member for the ERA said it was in his view that it was reasonably foreseeable that Whitfield would resign in circumstances where someone was employed or engaged to take over aspects of his job, he was required to return his car and mobile phone and his details were not loaded into the payroll system post the Christmas period.

Whitfield was awarded $30,313.15 as reimbursement for lost wages and $25,000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

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