Sauce doesn’t apply to Brown’s goose, it’s cooked nonetheless

If you were a corporate boss who ran one up the staff, or a Navy chief who screwed the crew you’d be sacked…not so Len Brown…he thinks the rules don’t apply to him.

Employment relations experts though say in the corporate world similar cases would result in Len Brown’s sacking.

Brown won;t speak, is in hiding and still the scandal rolls on. Sooner or later he is going to have to front and the media are going to ask about his double standards…the “Brown Standard”.

They will especially ask about the senior Council manager currently on gardening leave pending an investigation into his screwing of the crew.

Employment relations experts have weighed in on the Len Brown case, with some saying if he was employed as a chief executive on one of New Zealand’s major listed companies he would be fired.

Susan Hornsby-Geluk, partner at Dundas Street Employment Law said there would be a “strong likelihood” that Brown would be asked to stand down by the board of directors if the same behaviour occurred in a private company, more so if he led a public department.

“One of the critical issues would be if the other party was a subordinate, then it would be wholly incompatible with the objectives of the chief executive of a company,” Hornsby-Geluk said.  

The power issue here is immense…the elephant in the room really…and one Len Brown can’t or won’t speak about. I wonder what people would say if it was found a second person inside the council auspices was also involved…is it still a “private” matter then?

“Another issue would be employee [chief executive] judgment. Whether the employer was concerned by the judgment applied by him,” she said.

Unlike Brown, who is accountable to Auckland voters, chief executives have accountability to a board of directors.

Peter Cullen, the principal of Cullen Employment Law, said although an affair was “dangerous”, it might not result in instant dismissal because a board would take a holistic view of the employee’s work.

“I don’t think it’s fatal or necessarily a moral issue, a board will look past that.”

Another employment expert who would not be named, said if the affair was outside of the workplace with a non-employee, the likelihood of Brown being fired simply for his infidelity would not fly.

“If the CEO is having an affair, that’s nobody’s business but their family. If it’s in the Ngati Whatua room of the Town Hall with a staff member, that’s another matter,” he said.

However, employers such as Forsyth Barr and the New Zealand Navy have recently been found to have acted legally in dismissing employees, of lower status than Brown, for incidents such as road rage and an intra-office affair.

The double standards that Brown is claiming are astonishing.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.