The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found the man had been unjustifiably dismissed from his job by Canterbury Concrete Cutting NZ Limited.
As well as ordering the employer to pay compensation and lost wages, the authority ordered the former employee to pay the employer a $2000 penalty for the secret recording which the ERA considered a breach of good faith but not serious misconduct.
The concrete cutter and driller was employed on an individual contract with the company from February 2015, earning $28 per hour.
He was dismissed in December 2017 for failing to “act in good faith” by recording a disciplinary meeting held to discuss allegations he had bad-mouthed the company.
The man suffered a major depression and anxiety for two and a half months after being sacked.
While employed he attended a disciplinary meeting for allegedly bad-mouthing the company in front of a staff member, an action which could lead to a summary dismissal.
The letter said he claimed “the company was trying to screw [a previous employee] or words to that effect”.
He had a meeting with the owners of the company on the same day, and recorded the heated exchange.
They told him the disciplinary meeting was about his comments to a staff member about a previous employee, and “how we’re screwing him over and how you’re sick of working for a bunch of c…s like us”.
The ERA ruling found the employee was not given enough information in the letter about the allegations against him.
The failure to provide more specific information “caused disadvantage to (the employee)” the ERA found.