A woman in Auckland who reportedly endured bullying and unfair treatment from her boss has been awarded NZ$25,000 (approx. US$17,500) as recompense for her lost earnings and for her emotional distress, the Employment Relations Authority ruled.
The ERA sided with Flora Liu who accused her employer at mechanical building services group Chillex Services of calling her "f***ing stupid" and "f***ing hopeless" and setting her at an "unjustified disadvantage" at work, the New Zealand Herald first reported.
Liu was working as quantity surveyor for Chillex from January to June 2020, where she said she experienced numerous instances of bullying before she was allegedly forced out of the company.
The complainant believes her departure was unjustified since she was subjected to events that made her feel unsafe, anxious and distressed because of the bullying of a senior member of the team.
Documents filed before the ERA showed Cam Crawford, director at Chillex, directing expletives at Liu in an email for supposedly having failed to use a certain format for her reports.
When Liu pushed back, Crawford purportedly said: "Absolutely f***king hopeless, Flora. Are you not listening, mate?? Are your ears painted on??" The email was said to have included Liu's managers and colleagues.
The next day, Crawford allegedly sent another group email telling Liu not to "f**k me around today as I am not in a good mood". In that same message, the director also purportedly said "plenty of people [are] looking for work" in the country.
"We are looking for more savings, and culling staff numbers is a good place to start so I suggest you get on with it now," Crawford said, as seen in documents presented to the ERA.
As staff returned to working in the office in June last year, the director also allegedly yelled at Liu, calling her "f***king stupid". This prompted Liu to file her resignation letter because she felt "too humiliated and distressed".
Liu, however, attempted to rescind her resignation and file a complaint instead, but was told the management had accepted her earlier decision to leave. At that point, Liu decided to take the case to the ERA.
The authority said the complainant had suffered from angst and humiliation arising from the workplace abuse. The profanities targeted Liu herself and were just unacceptable, according to ERA member Michael Loftus.
"A person should not be subjected to such behaviour and abuse in the workplace," Loftus said, adding that the content of the emails had "no justification" with their "allegations of being 'f***king hopeless'" and comments threatening to fire the recipient.