ERA upholds abusive bus driver's dismissal

7:29 pm on 29 December 2017

An Auckland bus driver fired after verbally abusing a passenger has had his claim for $1 million compensation dismissed.

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Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

The case was heard by the Employment Relations Authority in October.

The decision released last week shows that on 4 July 2016 Mohammed Aslam was driving from Onehunga to the city centre.

During an employment investigation, Mr Aslam said he had been questioned by some passengers about the route.

He said he had called the control centre and asked about route changes, but was told there were none.

One passenger confronted him about taking the wrong route, and Mr Aslam told the passenger to leave the bus.

When the passenger got home, he called Auckland Transport and said he was verbally and physically assaulted by Mr Aslam.

A lawyer for Mr Aslam stated that he did not get off his bus seat, and did not walk up the aisle to the passenger.

However, during a meeting with Mr Aslam Auckland Transport authorities showed him a video about 10 seconds long that had been filmed by the passenger.

In the video, the driver is heard saying "out", and is seen rising from his seat.

The passenger is then heard to say "okay, I'll get out" and the video shows Mr Aslam moving toward the person taking the video.

The device on which the incident was recorded did not capture images of the incident, but only audio.

In the audio, the passenger is then heard saying "get your hand off me, get your hands off me". The video ends with Mr Aslam seen getting back into the driver's seat.

Mr Aslam was suspended from duties after the investigation as his actions constituted serious misconduct. He was dismissed a month later.

The authority accepted Mr Aslam thought he was on the correct route, which had been changed two months earlier while he was on leave, and that he was not made aware of the change.

However, it found Mr Aslam was justifiably dismissed, and reserved costs.

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