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Appeal case supports fair and reasonable employer

Media release 3 May 2001

Appeal case supports fair and reasonable employer

An Employment Court case overturned by the Court of Appeal today will highlight for employers the value of acting fairly and reasonably, says Business NZ Executive Director Anne Knowles.

A journalist was fired by the NZ Herald over an incorrect photograph used with a story on organised crime, then reinstated by the Employment Court on the grounds of unjustified dismissal, as the Employment Court held that systems at the newspaper had contributed to the incident. But the Appeal Court found that the Employment Court had substituted its own view for that of the employer in an area of the technical operation of a complex business. Ms Knowles says the key principle, that a Court may not substitute its view for that of an employer who has been found to have acted fairly and reasonably in the circumstances, has been upheld.

Ms Knowles says it highlights for employers the value of acting fairly and reasonably, and of following correct procedure.

"In this case the employer's view was that the negligence was serious enough to warrant dismissal. The Court found that in the circumstances this was a decision a fair and reasonable employer was entitled to make, and the Employment Court should not have substituted its own views on the matter.

"The Court of Appeal could not have reached this decision if the employer had not acted properly throughout - it is a helpful reminder to employers that acting fairly and reasonably in such situations will protect their right to manage."

Contact Anne Knowles 04 4966555 or 021425868 or Kathryn Asare 021555744

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