Tracy Neal, Open Justice reporter
A call center employee fired after he blew the whistle on his bosses, who allegedly ordered some taxi drivers to be reassigned, has been reinstated for now.
The Labor Relations Authority ordered the temporary reinstatement of the employee, whose name has been withheld, provided a list of conditions are met.
The employee, named in the decision of the PPK body, had worked in a call center for 12 years until August this year, but was dismissed due to serious misconduct.
The call center provides taxi booking services to another entity called ROC.
August 15 this year PPK was summarily dismissed after she had already raised a red flag with ERA, claiming that employers had retaliated for revealing “irregularities”.
Respondents denied that PPK had personal grievances and opposed the requested remedies and PPK’s request for temporary reinstatement.
The employee served in a variety of roles, including call center operator and lead operator/supervisor.
PPK claims that in March 2022, a senior person within the company requested that driving positions be allocated to preferred drivers.
Since then, PPK has continued to raise concerns about how work is allocated to drivers, but respondents claim that PPK “repeatedly harassed” senior officials due to “favouritism, nepotism and corruption.”
PPK denied the defendants’ claims that after the accusation, a request for a raise was sent, suggesting that if PPK received the increase, it would keep silent about the allegations.
In February this year, in a letter sent to the company’s senior management, PPK accused it of “inappropriate and unethical practices”, referring to nepotism and favoring drivers in the allocation of work.
PPK hoped that the company’s director would “immediately cease all unethical practices”, otherwise the evidence would be sent to public service departments, a trade union and an industry competitor.
Respondents stated that an investigation into PPK’s allegations of favoritism in the distribution of work found that the way driver positions were allocated was both lawful and reasonable.
After the investigation was completed in March this year. PPK received information about the proposal to suspend them from work while the investigation into the allegations was conducted, including the threat to provide confidential information to a competitor.
The third charge was based on a letter stating that PPK “proposed an illegal practice of directing the driver’s work and receiving a bribe.”
The fourth allegation was based on a letter from another driver, accusing PPK of using company systems to gain access to information regarding drivers’ earnings.
PPK remained absent from work after missing her shift on March 29, and in April she returned for a few days, until the last day set by the authority as April 23 this year.
The respondents proposed meetings, but it was found that the PPK was not working at ACC due to an accident.
Medical information showed that PPK was able to gradually return from June 19, and it would start working full-time by August.
June 23 this year PPK filed a personal complaint alleging that she had been unlawfully suspended and that she had been retaliated against through disciplinary proceedings.
The correspondence continued until PPK was informed in August of its summary dismissal for reasons including allegations of attempted blackmail and threats against senior management, use of an IT system to access information and alleged planning to engage in an unlawful practice involving on receiving a “bribe” for driving, working for a driver.
PPK claims that the dismissal was procedurally and substantively unjustified, and the ERA found that PPK met the threshold for justifying a case of unfair dismissal.
PPK’s request for temporary reinstatement was granted before the substantive consideration of the personal complaints.
– This story was first published by Herald of New Zealand.
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