Former Swimming New Zealand coach loses unfair dismissal claim

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A former Swimming New Zealand coach has lost his claim for unjustifiable dismissal.

According to a report by The New Zealand Herald, David Lyles was made redundant following a poor performance at the Commonwealth Games.

Lyles was employed as National High Performance Centre coach for less than two years when the sporting body’s reforms to its high performance program resulted in his redundancy. The program’s restructure came in the wake of a poor performance at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Lyles made a claim to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) that there were flaws in his dismissal, The Herald reported, as the newly created role of national head coach was essentially the same as his former role.

Swimming New Zealand told the ERA that the program which had been in place failed to meet expectations at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, with swimmers achieving slower times as the games approached.

The failure to meet targets meant that the sporting body could cut funding to Swimming New Zealand unless it could show improvements in the run-up to the next Olympics.

The decision was consequently made to review Swimming New Zealand’s coaching structures, leading to the creation of a new national head coach role.

After consultation, Swimming New Zealand underwent the restructure, and Lyles unsuccessfully applied for the new coaching role, The Herald reported. 

The ERA ruled that the national head coach role had more responsibilities and required different skills than Lyles’ previous role, and that the redundancy procedure – including the selection process for the new role – was conducted in a fair manner.

The ERA dismissed Lyles’ application.

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