A woman fired from her job for comments she posted on Facebook will be awarded money from her former employer following an Employment Relations Authority decision.
Alana Adams will be paid $4000 of lost remuneration by her former employer – the Wellington Free Ambulance Service – after the authority ruled that she had been unjustifiably dismissed.
The 22-year-old, who worked at the communications centre for three years, lost her job this year after arguments with a colleague turned nasty when they continued on to social-networking website Facebook.
Her colleague complained to senior staff that during a shift together, the pair had a small argument after Ms Adams wanted to have a meal break.
But because he had been on shift longer than she had, he felt that he was due for a meal break before her.
He complained that she spoke down to him, before becoming more abusive via comments on his Facebook page later the next day.
After Ms Adams had admitted that she had made comments on her colleague’s Facebook page, other co-workers came forward to say that she had made similar comments and been abusive towards them, also during work hours.
However, she told the Employment Relations Authority that the discussion on her colleague’s Facebook page was one between friends and was “merely a minor spat”.
She was later dismissed by her employer after an investigation into her behaviour found that she had acted in a similar way towards another colleague from a different communications centre at which she had worked previously.
That person said he had received threatening texts from her – texts she did not deny sending to him.
One text sent by her said: “You’re a f***head. And ths is personal. Professional wud b if I emaild u abuse.”
Senior staff at the Wellington Free Ambulance Service felt that this showed an undesirable pattern in Ms Adams’ behaviour, particularly because the Facebook exchange happened well after the working shift was over – showing she had held a grudge.
She was, therefore, no longer welcomed as an employee.
Ms Adams subsequently took the matter to the Employment Court in Wellington, saying she had been fired unjustifiably, and sought to get her job back – which she did, for a short while.
In its decision, the authority ruled Ms Adams’ dismissal was indeed unjustified and awarded her $4000 in lost pay.
However, it declined to reinstate her because of “subsequently discovered misconduct and her serious contribution to the situation that gave rise to her personal grievance for unjustified dismissal”.