Man who suffered a seizure fired for causing company unforeseen stress, awarded $14,000 by Employment Relations Authority

A worker sacked after suffering a seizure a few days into his new job has been awarded more than $14,000 in compensation and lost wages by the Employment Relations Authority.

Ashley Wakeham was hospitalised two days after agreeing to a verbal contract, where he was promised a $100,000 salary to work for asbestos removal company Pacific Decontamination Service Limited, in June last year.

Wakeham returned to work on June 9 and his boss Graeme Raymond agreed to organise a driver to drive him to and from work sites.

But after he did not receive his pay for a couple of weeks, on June 25, Raymond told Wakeham he was no longer needed as he was causing the company "unforseen stress" and additional expenses.

Before he was sacked, Wakeham's salary was cut to $40 per hour as there was cost involved in arranging a driver to transport him to and from work sites and meetings. 

The Employment Relations Authority said the process leading to Wakeham's dismissal was defective as there was no investigation before the dismissal and the company did not act as a fair and reasonable employer could have done.

There was also no reasonable opportunity afforded to Wakeham to respond to any concerns about his health or otherwise before dismissal. In effect the dismissal was immediate and abrupt, the authority said.

The authority awarded Wakeham four weeks' pay of $7692 and an additional $2333 in wage arrears.

After the dismissal, Wakeham said he had lost confidence in himself and  found it difficult to motivate himself to apply for another role. He was worried about being terminated again if he was to secure a new job.

He was also awarded $4000 compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

In addition to the $14,000 awarded to Wakeham, Pacific Decontamination was also fined $1000 for failing to provide a written employment agreement.