The vast majority of claims in the Employment Relations Authority are by employees suing their employers for personal grievances and wages arrears. Employers occasionally sue employees for breaches of confidentiality and restraints of trade.
The Employment Relations Act 2000 gave employers much wider opportunities to sue employees, but such claims are surprisingly rare.
One such case was decided by the Authority in late February. The KFC store in Upper Hutt (“Restaurant Brands”) sued their former manager, Mr Bond, for the costs incurred by KFC to investigate thefts by Mr Bond. Mr Bond pleaded guilty in the Criminal Courts to a charge of theft.
KFC sued for $9,545 made up of $5,000 for Paragon (private) Investigators, $3,000 for Restaurant Brands’ employees’ time to investigate the thefts and $1,545 in legal costs. The Authority deducted $600 from the claim in regard to employees’ time but otherwise awarded all the amounts KFC claimed.
KFC also claimed $3,000 “general damages” for the theft of money while Mr Bond was employed in a senior position. The Authority declined to award “general damages” because Mr Bond had conceded only that he took a small amount of money above the $80 which he had pleaded guilty to and there was no evidence of how much more he might have stolen.
Restaurant Brands Ltd v Bond [ NZERA Wellington 21; 23/02/2012; PR Stapp].
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