“Aggressive” and unsafe truckie unfairly dismissed, rules ERA

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The ERA recently ruled that a truck driver, who was reportedly seen driving with his young baby unrestrained in his cab, was unjustifiably dismissed.

Clayton Cochrane was sacked by Kings Transport and Logistics NZ for “serious misconduct” involving a breach of road rules and using “aggressive and offensive” language towards a client, The New Zealand Herald reported.

But the tribunal’s ruling said that the company failed to follow proper procedure in his dismissal, leading the ERA to order the company to pay Cochrane $7956 as lost wages, and $5100 in compensation.

It was ruled that Kings had failed in its procedural duties when it came to the dismissal process, including an adequate investigation and unfair weighing of the facts.

During a work break in early 2014, Cochrane drove his partner and their three-month-old daughter to make an appointment at the Work and Income office.

According to the ERA finding, Cochrane drove the truck – which was affiliated with the company – while his partner held the unrestrained baby on her lap.

A member of the public saw the couple and phoned the police, who telephoned a manager.

Two days later, Cochrane went to Cambridge to pick up an order and ended up in a row with the trade supervisor about a damaged order.

The ERA said that the argument “became heated”, with the supervisor claiming in an email to Kings that Cochrane had called him “an idiot,” and asked him: “are you on the rags?”

Cochrane later admitted to this.

He was called to a disciplinary meeting in March, and was later sacked for serious misconduct.

The ERA ruled that Kings had failed to explore alternative disciplinary actions, and had not told Cochrane that dismissal was a potential outcome of the disciplinary meeting. The ruling also concluded that the outcome was pre-determined, and the evidence failed to support a finding of serious misconduct.  

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