Chef gets $15,000 for wrongful sacking

A woman who was sacked from an Auckland cafe in April after an argument with the owner's father over cookie icing has been awarded more than $15,000 for an unjustified sacking.

Prema D'Souza, a chef at Roasted Addiqtion, wrote a letter on April 8 to her boss Vincent Chan, complaining among other things that Mr Chan's father Jimmy shoved a hot tray of cookies at her when she refused to ice them because they needed to cool down.

Ms D'Souza, who arrived from India in 2010, told an Employment Relations Authority hearing she tried to discuss the complaints the next day. But Mr Chan laughed, threatened to sack her and ruin her permanent residence application.

On April 11 she received two emails from Mr Chan with warning letters, one dated March 17 and another dated April 10. The letters accused her of faults relating to food control, missing stock, refusal to follow instructions and arguing with Jimmy Chan.

After Ms D'Souza replied to say the claims were false and asked for an apology, Mr Chan issued a third email saying her employment was terminated.

Employment Relations Authority member Anna Fitzgibbon says she didn't accept evidence from witnesses for the cafe that Ms D'Souza was a poor performer, saying she found its witnesses were not credible and their evidence was "self-serving, inconsistent and contradictory".

Ms D'Souza was awarded $1848 gross for three weeks lost wages, $10,000 compensation for humiliation and $3500 for costs.

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