A logging worker unfairly sacked just months after going off the benefit has been awarded more than $12,000 by the Employment Relations Authority.
Nigel Brown started working for Te Kohu Logging in Hamilton in February last year after relocating from Tokoroa.
After a fortnight he was given a company car by his boss, Simon Ranginui, to be used to pick up and drop off his colleagues before and after work.
A few weeks later Mr Ranginui spotted Mr Brown having a beer and a cigarette while parked up at a local campground.
He turned up for work the next day, but after his shift ended he was sacked, with Mr Ranginui telling him he had behaved "disrespectfully".
Despite the dismissal taking place within 90 days of the beginning of employment, the Authority found Te Kohu had not followed proper procedure, which would include warning Mr Brown about his behaviour and giving him right of reply.
In her judgment, presiding member Vicki Campbell pointed out Mr Brown had been on the benefit until his employment, and was distressed and embarrassed to have been fired so soon.
Mr Brown had children and was trying to do his best for his family, she wrote.
Due to the dismissal Mr Brown had to relocate to Auckland to find employment, which he said was an expensive process.
Ms Campbell awarded Mr Brown more than $4000 in lost wages and holiday pay, and also ordered Te Kohu Logging to pay him $8000 for his humiliation and distress.