A truck driver accused of stealing six cartons of chicken sausages has been awarded $11,222.72 after his employer lied about having seen CCTV footage of the theft.
Andrew Adams won his case for unfair dismissal before the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
The matter concerned a delivery of Tegel products Mr Adams made to a yard in Dunedin in April 2015.
A few days later, the yard's director contacted Mr Adams' company, AMC Contracting, and demanded he be sacked.
The director said he had CCTV footage of Mr Adams loading the chicken sausages into a car and said, if he was not sacked, the yard would cancel its $24 million contract with AMC.
He said there were also two eyewitnesses who saw the supposed theft.
AMC sacked Mr Adams and told him it had seen the incriminating footage.
However, the ERA found there was no footage and said Mr Adams was not given a fair investigation or a chance to explain.
Neither eyewitness gave evidence to the ERA, and no proof of the missing sausages was provided.
AMC was ordered to pay Mr Adams compensation for unpaid holiday, lost wages, legal fees and injury to feelings.
"AMC says that it was not the source of any rumours that he was dismissed for theft and cannot be held accountable for any harm arising out of such rumours.
"I accept that AMC may not have spread the word that it dismissed Mr Adams for theft but the fact remains that it did so [dismissed him], and it did so unjustifiably," the authority said.
"Whoever spread the rumours was aware that Mr Adams had been dismissed and had been dismissed for dishonesty."