Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive •

Max Whitehead: Fullers ferry boss sends 3am email to staff

Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive

One of our top legal employment experts says a good night's sleep is sometimes a great remedy to potentially inflammatory work emails - and then authors should think twice before hitting send.
Employment law specialist Dr Bill Hodge says electronic media meant people did not engage in a cooling off period before sharing questionable missives they sometimes lived to regret.
And if you happened to be on the receiving end of an abusive or bullying work email there were legal options to consider.
His comments follow a scathing email to workers that has surfaced on a public Facebook page penned by Auckland ferry and tourism company Fullers fleet operations manager Megan Watson. In it she tells disgruntled staff to "go and do something else" if they aren't up for the job and demanding to know if they are on board.
The lengthy electronic communication to staff was sent at 3.10am.

The email to staff was posted on a Facebook page.
The frustrated senior manager also revealed she was sad and exhausted over workers' attitudes that "we should be back to normal" within weeks of returning to level 1 after lockdown.
But it's after detailing trials of her team coming under fire from the company's human resources department and chief executive officer when she really lets rip.
"I get it - if you aren't up for it - cool - go do something else - otherwise stay and working with us for a future = be on the journey [sic].
"Let me know - seriously - for the long haul - are you in or are you out?" she finished.
But Hodge says this situation could possibly been avoided if the manager had caught her breath and waited until morning to hit send.
"My standard view is: sleep on it.
"If you are frustrated you should type up what you want to say and sleep on it before you push that button."
Asked what advice he would give to the woman who penned the message Hodge replied, "They probably don't need my advice but you don't want to be reading your message on the front page of the Herald.
"That person should have been sleeping on it at 3am."
Hodge, who is an honorary academic at Auckland University and contributes the annual chapter on employment law to the New Zealand Law Review, said workers subject to abusive or bullying behaviour had two potential legal remedies to consider.
One was to walk and claim constructive dismissal. The other was to stay and bring a personal disadvantage grievance.
However, given the stricken economic circumstances with widespread redundancies a pragmatic approach might be a better option to solve the situation.
"This happens to be in an industry which like so many others has fallen off a cliff. Let's keep in mind if you win what can you get? There's no sense no matter how strong your case is if a defendant doesn't have any money."
An alternate situation workers could go to their union and it could lobby on their behalf, leaving the complainants anonymous.
He said a good employer would have an internal informal mechanism whereby employees could say this was type of behaviour was abusive and for it to stop.
Fullers has been approached for comment.
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