Etco was forced to settle $25,000.00 as compensatory payments in compensation to Libeau in addition to $4,410.00 as well as three months normal time compensation.
An electrical company was ordered to pay $29,410 to an previous Invercargill student who was unfairly dismissed due to a curly spine and back discomfort.
Brendan Libeau started an apprenticeship electrician position at the Electrical Trading Company Limited (Etco) in June of 2018.
Then, he left in March 2020, and lodged a complaint with the Employment Relations Authority about the treatment he received when he was employed at Etco which is a large company that hires, trains, and hires apprentice electricians.
He claimed that he was treated in an unjust manner by Etco about his fitness to work after requesting the purchase of a new chair in response to an scoliosis diagnosis that was recently made that is a curve that affects the spine.
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The training required Libeau to sit for up to seven hours working on his job diary, assessment of his work, and also to study for the work which he was expected to complete.
Russell Rohde, who at that time was the Southern Region apprentice coordinator, stated that there was no chair replacement for Libeau.
Tension began to grow between the two following the time Libeau left work to visit his doctor regarding his sore back and did not tell Rhode. Rhode was then required Libeau to obtain medical certification because he believed that it could be an incident at work that required to be recorded.
The way works the Employment Relations Authority works. (Video first released in June 2021.)
Rhodes also demanded Libeau to fill out an accident report and request his doctor to complete the apprenticeship Electrician JTS (JTS) to ensure Etco could comprehend the full extent of the issue the implications of any possible limitations or workplace issues related to scoliosis.
He stated that Etco was unsure of his fitness to work, and he needed advice from his doctor prior to he could carry on with his job.
The work of Libeau was delayed until he supplied the details however, he refused to provide the information to return to work.
The meeting took place between the two of them, Libeau with John Whittaker, the senior apprentice coordinator for the region of southern. Whittaker explained that Etco was required to ensure Libeau secure at work, and this meant that it had to determine if scoliosis, or any back injury might affect his ability to work or stay secure.
The Libeau obtained a medical certification and bought his own chair for his return to work however, he was not able to take the JTS. Libeau then wrote an informal grievance letter for the executive chief who replied Libeau was in violation of his individual contract of employment by not following legal guidelines.
In November of 2019 the letter was sent by Whittaker to Libeau’s residence and gave Libeau one final chance to submit the necessary information regarding his ability to work the 28th of November the 28th of November, 2019. If the information wasn’t given, he will no longer receive any payment. In the event of a breach, Etco will stop paying him.
Libeau was able to complete the JTS that stated that he was fit to work in December. He then requested back payment for the time period of November 24 through January 13 in 2020. There was no communication, and no back payment, he decided to resign at the end of March in 2020.
The Authority Peter van Keulen said Etco had no reason to demand Libeau to get medical certification or the JTS and his suspension was neither reasonable nor justifiable.
“This was a straightforward request made by an employee for an appropriate chair since they suffered from an injury to their back due to sitting in the existing chair. The request was not enough to grant Etco an authority to insist that a medical examination of fitness to working in all aspects of the employee’s health. there is no justification to require that test.
“The expulsion of Mr. Libeau was in fact a violation of obligation from Etco,” he said.
Etco has been ordered to make payments of $25,000 as compensation to Libeau in exchange for humiliation as well as the loss of dignity and emotional damage. $4410 as well as three months normal time pay.
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