New Zealand Law Society - Human Rights Tribunal better pathway for aggrieved employees?

Human Rights Tribunal better pathway for aggrieved employees?

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Simpson Grierson partner Phillipa Muir says the just-released Human Rights Review Tribunal decision in MacGregor v Craig [2016] NZHRRT 6 (2 March 2016) signals a continuing upward trend in damages awards, in contrast to awards from the other employment institutions.

The Tribunal awarded Rachel MacGregor, former press secretary for politician Colin Craig, a record award of $120,000 for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings, after it was found that Mr Craig deliberately and repeatedly breached confidentiality terms of a settlement agreement entered into with Ms MacGregor.

Ms Muir says the Tribunal's recent awards could signal a more lucrative pathway for aggrieved employees, who have the option of pursuing a claim under the Human Rights Act 1993. 

In contrast, the average compensation awards under the Employment Relations Act 2000 are still only in the range of $5,000-$10,000.

"It seems likely that as a result of the high awards in these recent Tribunal cases,  aggrieved employees may well be looking seriously at pursuing claims under the Human Rights Act, rather than the Employment Relations Act," she says.

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