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$5 Pom racial abuse dismissed

Published 06 Aug 2016

A woman employed on a casual basis claimed harassment and racial abuse from her employer has had her case dismissed by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

The fruit growing nursery business in Northland were forced into a redundancy situation after their stock failed tests for fruit pests and three roles became redundant.

Despite this and the fact her Working Visa had subsequently expired Penelope Jones continued to show up for work and the company Director clearly told her that she no longer had a role and particularly so since she had no further entitlement to work in NZ anyway.
Jones began covertly recording conversations that she had with the Director - conversations that the authority used as evidence in its decision.

The point the ex-employee used as 'racial harassment' being that during one of these recorded conversations the Director used the term '$5 Pom'.

The ERA agreed such a term was inappropriate but did not meet the tests required to qualify as racial or even general harassment. The comment was not repeated nor directed at the staff member or her employment.

The finding went on to determine that no issue was made about the comment at the time, and it was likely he ex-employee had "plucked" it out of the conversation to build on her case.  She then claimed she was owed both pay and holiday pay for extended periods - another claim the ERA member dismissed.