Chow brothers win ERA case

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Millionaire property magnates John and Michael Chow have been cleared of unjust dismissal after the Employment Relations Authority dismissed allegations made by a pair of former employees.

Michael Speight and Nicholas Duffy claimed they had been unfairly fired when they lost their jobs to restructuring – a move which came after a key Wellington tenant chose not to renew its lease.

After hearing the news, the prominent Chow brothers met with staff to discuss strategy and proposed moving a portion of the business to residential accommodation – a little over two weeks later, property staff agreed the company needed to reduce the department size and contract out some work.

Four roles were disestablished as a result of the reshuffle – including Speight’s and Duffy’s – while two new positions were created.  However, the disgruntled pair believed they had been preselected for redundancy.

They claimed they had "fallen out of favour" with the Chow brothers, which resulted in letters of concern being handed to them just weeks before the restructure was proposed.

Additionally, Speight argued that the John Chow had shown favouritism towards another employee by asking him to spend the night at his Auckland home when on business, whereas Speight had never received a similar invite.

Chow told the authority the overnight arrangement was “a matter of convenience as opposed to preferential treatment” and member of the authority Michele Ryan agreed with his explanation.

She also ruled that redundancies were a consequence of a genuine business need and stressed that the brothers’ actions had been fair and reasonable.

While the ruling is a win for John and Michael Chow, the pair said they were disappointed the case had ever even arisen.

“We take pride in CGML's reputation as being a great place to work,” they stressed, adding that it was “heartening” to learn the ERA had accepted their evidence and personal testimonies.

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