Man wins $186k in bizarre work dispute
Wed, 22 Aug 2012 3:26p.m.
A former American soap star turned health worker, who worked 28 months for an Auckland heart clinic run by his friend, has won $186,666 in unpaid salary.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Employment Relations Authority decision, released this week, says Howard Dell's case "is so extraordinary as to be almost impossible to invent".
Canadian-born Mr Dell, who once acted in The Young & the Restless, worked for Primary Heart Care, which offers a treatment called Enhanced External Counterpulsation Therapy (EECP) from a premises in Epsom. EECP involves inflatable leg and arm cuffs pushing the blood back towards the body's organs.
The clinic claimed to be treating singer Ray Columbus, boxer Shane Cameron and runner Lisa Tamati.
It is owned by Willie Hinchcliff, who came sixth in the long jump at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, before testing positive for steroid use, and then embarking on a career in American football.
Mr Dell, also a former American footballer, came out to work for Mr Hinchcliff in 2007, but the relationship soured and he left 28 months later, despite not being paid any of his $80,000 annual salary.
He complained to the ERA, which said it tried to get the clinic to attend a hearing, but despite repeated attempts only ever received a "curious" document from the Ngai Tupango Incorporation saying it acted for the clinic.
However, it never took part in the hearing, which eventually took place in Auckland with Mr Dell giving evidence via Skype, swearing on a bible, because he had returned to the US.
ERA member James Crichton said it was almost unbelievable that Mr Dell was unpaid for 28 months' work.
"The story Mr Dell tells is so extraordinary as to be almost impossible to invent."
Mr Dell returned to New Zealand this year to try and get his money and retrieve personal items, however the police became involved and he had to pick his stuff up from a nearby alley.
That was followed up by two "remarkable" documents emailed to Mr Dell, one purporting to be an agreement where Mr Dell waived his salary in return for US$15,000. It effectively seemed to terminate his employment on the date it actually started.
The other document, entitled Waiver of Independent Legal Advice, was completely unintelligible, Mr Crichton said.
Mr Crichton said he was satisfied there was an employment contract and Mr Dell was entitled to $186,666 gross for his unpaid work.
However, questions remain over if and when the money will be paid.
A spokeswoman for the clinic told NZ Newswire the ERA decision was being appealed and it would not be commenting further.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
22/08/2012 6:52:34 p.m.
@Greg - if there was a union involved it would have taken longer and cost more.
22/08/2012 6:48:15 p.m.
Ho can you go that long without pay, without taking action
22/08/2012 3:41:29 p.m.
Cheaper to just have a union, wouldnt it?
Once again Campbell Live has a very powerful caravan of opin...
Only a handful of skydivers have survived what happened to L...
Viewers overwhelming voted yes to decriminalising soft drugs...
Campbell Live looks at an initiative to get people walking a...
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.