NZ: Irish Bar Owner Sexually Harassed Younger Employee, Ordered To Pay $44,000

nz irish bar owner sexually harassed younger employee, ordered to pay $44,000

nz irish bar owner sexually harassed younger employee, ordered to pay $44,000

A woman, who has been granted name suppression, moved from Christchurch to Kaikōura a couple of years back, expecting an exciting job opportunity. After the pair met at a music gig, Murray Boyd employed her in his Irish hotel and bar, Donegal House, in late January 2021. Although everything seemed to work out well in the beginning, things started turning sour soon.

The bar owner touched the woman on her waist and breast, causing her to feel unsafe. Boyd also made a number of inappropriate comments to her, with texts from him provided to the Employment Relations Authority show them ending with an “x” representing a kiss. He also asked her what she would be wearing and said things like “I would love you behind the bar.”

As days went by, Boyd’s behaviour towards the woman became more and more inappropriate, including trying to kiss her despite her numerous attempts to pull away and say no. She resigned and left the coastal town within weeks. Later, the woman took the bar owner to the ERA, claiming he created an unsafe work environment that triggered her unjustified dismissal.

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Boyd, however, has rejected any accusations related to sexual harassment and said Donegal House ran on the basis of humour, informality, hugging in appropriate circumstances, and touching to move past other staff in a relatively confined space behind the bar. But authority member Lucia Vincent found the woman’s account was more believable than Boyd’s.

A staff member and several customers had also warned the woman to be careful around him. Boyd, in his argument, said his actions were not inappropriate or sexual in any way, claiming the woman instead had a sensitivity to being touched which he wasn’t aware of. Vincent, however, found his behaviour towards the woman lacked professionalism and was inappropriate.

The woman resigned after three weeks. She described the overall impact of the case on her as immense. Boyd, who has been ordered to pay the woman eight weeks’ wages totalling $9,476 to make up for her time being unable to work and compensation of $35,000, indicated he would take the matter to a higher court.

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