An employer argued the employee was an independent contractor and therefore the Employment Relations Authority did not have jurisdiction to determine her claims.

The ERA examined two documents the employee signed. One which included that the employee was a full time seminar trainer, her hourly rate and a company phone and the other which was headed NZ Legal Employment Obligations with the employer’s logo on the front page. The ERA concluded an employment relationship existed.

The employee claimed she was unjustifiably dismissed because of a series of text messages. The ERA held the dismissal was not what a fair and reasonable employer would have done.

If there were issues with the employee the employer failed to discuss these appropriately, by not allowing her the opportunity to give an explanation before reaching a decision to terminate her employment. ERA found the employee’s dismissal was unjustified.

A $4,000 compensation award for distress and humiliation, an $80 reimbursement for fuel, and the cost of the employee preparing for investigation of $1,200 were awarded to the employee.