A terminally ill man has been awarded thousands of dollars after claiming he was made redundant because he lived longer than his employer expected him to.
According to a recently released Employment Relations Authority decision Len Clapham was hired by surveying firm Alexander & Co on May 10, 2010, and an employment agreement came into force on July 19 2010.
The agreement - between the parties who had a family connection - allowed the company to terminate his employment in the event of illness and if he was made redundant, four weeks notice would be given.
The contract was not time limited, but Alexander & Co told the authority it expected the role had a defined end because Clapham had disclosed he was suffering from terminal cancer.
Between March 2011 and the termination of Clapham's contract on May 31, 2011, Alexander & Co raised a number of concerns with him about his performance and health issues, the decision reads.
A letter on March 24 raised performance concerns which Clapham responded to positively, the authority heard. That was followed by an email on April 7, 2011, where the company sought a ''belt and braces'' response from Clapham's doctor.
Clapham responded by saying he had provided full disclosure before starting work, had kept good health during his employment and instead offered a doctor's letter confirming he was fit for fulltime work. According to the decision, Clapham believed anything beyond this was ''an invasion of his privacy''.
On April 20 Alexander & Co raised fresh performance concerns with Clapham and said he would be suspended until he provided the sought disclosure.
Clapham did not do that and was suspended on May 30 and dismissed for redundancy the following day.
Clapham told the authority his dismissal was a ''sham redundancy'' and bereft of any consultation.
''He alleges that the real reason for his dismissal was that he had survived longer than Alexander & Co had anticipated,'' the authority decision reads.
Alexander & Co disputed that, saying the business started to ''deteriorate'' in late 2010 and the specific jobs Clapham was tasked with were largely completed by May.
The firm said it had become increasingly concerned by Clapham's performance and behaviour, and had sought health assurances as a result.
Research done by the company on the type of cancer Clapham had suggested ''even a six-month work period might be optimistic''.
The authority had ''no hesitation'' in concluding Clapham's redundancy was not genuine and was, at best, ''activated by mixed emotions''.
''The evidence for Alexander & Co was essentially that its expectation was that Mr Clapham would perish before there was any question of redundancy being necessary,'' the authority decision reads.
The authority said there was ''absolutely no evidence'' that Alexander & Co told Clapham that restructuring, reorganisation or retrenching were being considered.
The authority concluded the redundancy was an ''afterthought'', ''perhaps borne of frustration'' at not getting medical reports from Clapham.
The authority said Clapham may have contributed to the situation by not supplying the information, but had he known what the outcome would be he may have changed his position.
Clapham was awarded $12,000 compensation for ''hurt and humiliation'' and paid 14 weeks salary.
A spokeswoman from Alexander & Co today declined to comment on the ruling.