Vexatious complainant gets slapped for wonky ‘bum slap’ complaint

A story came out a couple of days ago that shows the problem with our employee grievance industry.

A Hamilton woman who lost a sexual harassment complaint against her former boss after he slapped her bum has been ordered to pay him $5000.

Hamilton woman Ella Newman, 23, will appeal the Employment Relations Authority decision that quashed her sexual harassment claim and the decision to make her pay.

I don’t know who advised her, but this should never have got this far.


Especially when the Herald reported the following comment from ERA member Anna Fitzgibbon.

Authority member Anna Fitzgibbon rejected those claims, calling Ms Newman an unreliable witness and questioning why she did not complain earlier.

It sounds like she just made stuff up and was an ‘unreliable witness’, probably looking for a Christmas bonus or a trip overseas.

If she had such an unreliable claim, you would hope her lawyer would tell her such.

Unfortunately many employees like her use groups like Community Law, often light on lawyers, and assume employers are wrong no matter what. They then stumble along making the matter worse and fail to speak the truth to their client.  

The worst lawyers are the type that believe everything their client says and fail to give them a cold hard slap of reality.

Too often these Community Law-type advocates make the matter worse, enflaming the situation and then running a mile as soon as they actually have to come up with evidence.

They know that the first step in the process is mediation, and mediation is about settling so everyone ‘agrees to disagree’ and the employee walks away with a fat cheque.

It is nothing but legalised blackmail but the government enforces it under the umbrella of ‘good faith’.

This just encourages employees like this and the whole grievance industry to get behind them – and in the case of Community Law they do it with tax payers money.

This particular case was so bad that even the employee friendly/employer hostile Employment Relations Authority saw through it and slapped the complainant with a fine for her trouble.

Unfortunately there will be those who will call this victim blaming, because in their warped world there is no such thing as a vexatious or malicious complainant just making stuff up who trot off to the ERA or the Privacy Commission who will lend them a sympathetic ear.

Hopefully however this will serve as a warning to anyone else who tries this.



– Fairfax, NZ Herald

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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.