Morgan Golder worked fulltime at the Lincoln Rd, Henderson branch of Columbus Coffee.
In April 2010 Morgan suffered a brain injury in a horse-riding accident. Her mother contacted the manager, Ron Judd to let him know Morgan would be off work for up to eight weeks.
Without informing Morgan, Ron Judd replaced her with a permanent chef 11 days after her accident.
Once Golder was well enough to return to work she covered a staff shortage in the front-of-house area. She believed she would return to the kitchen when she was well enough. But her relationship with Ron Judd deteriorated and she was given two written warnings in two days for rudeness to customers.
She believed the warnings were unwarranted and quit soon after.
Ron Judd told the authority she was “a volatile worker, difficult to talk to, and with no respect for authority.”
Judd mentioned they had had confrontations, which he found stressful and “created a horrible atmosphere in the cafe.”
Employment Relations Authority member Rachel Larmer said Morgan Golder should have been given a chance to respond to the warnings.
The payout was reduced because the Authotiry felt that Morgan Golder had contributed to the situation.
It is that old problem of communication again. The circumstances around Morgans extended absence from work had her rehabilitation back into the role should have been dealt with at te beginning.
A cafe is a highly pressurised environment. A manager does not always devote as much time as they should to forward planning. The ‘here and now’ normally consumes most of their time.
Staff members being ‘difficult’ is the last thing they need.
That is no excuse though. Morgan was entitled to a duty of care from her employer regarding her rehabilitation that she did not receive.
People under stress usually means something has got to give. It did. Morgan was snapping at customers. Ron was angry with Morgan. Morgan felt she had no choice but to leave and did so.
In cases like this there is not usually one lilly white party and one totally wrong. Blame lies somewhere in between and that is how the ERA has seen it.