Employer Reputation – When It Goes Wrong, It REALLY Goes Wrong

November 23rd, 2021 - Barbara Buckett

Media reports have recently shone a light on the conduct and alleged bullying by a Christchurch café owner and it has provided a timely reminder to employers that in the age of social media a negative company culture is not something that can be brushed under the carpet.

Hospitality institutions have often suffered from the pervasive reputation of being challenging to work in, from dealing with tricky patrons to operating in high-pressure situations, with those at the top often stereotyped as temperamental.  Back in the day though, a less than stellar employer reputation could only really be passed on via word of mouth.  Enter social media and the internet and behold! A recipe for disaster.  Word of owner-operator Sam Crofskey’s alleged bullying and harassment and management methodology spread like wildfire and has resulted in a boycott of C1 Espresso, multiple news articles and Mr Crofskey stepping down from his role on an extended ‘break’ to go away and think about his life choices.

With calls for C1 Espresso to be investigated by MBIE and the Labour Inspectorate, and with the potential liability of personal grievances being raised by current and former employees, it will be interesting to see how this matter unfolds.

There are varying issues with this matter that extend more broadly across all industries – the first is that there is a misguided view that you can behave badly in industries where employees are in what is considered a precarious employment position (usually young, paid at or close to minimum wage and employed as a casual employee) because they will not know or exercise their rights and can be viewed as ‘disposable’.  Except this is increasingly not the case – once you have a name as a ‘bad employer’, it is a lot harder to climb your way out of disrepute.

Employers have a responsibility under the Employment Relations Act (2002) to act in good faith toward their employees and also have a responsibility under the Health & Safety at Work Act (2015) to provide a safe environment for employees to do their jobs.  No employee should feel scared or intimidated to go to work.

These cases highlight the necessity to ensure that management has a clear understanding – not only of their obligations under the law, but of their moral responsibility to treat others how they would wish to be treated – and understand the ramifications of how this can affect a business if this isn’t taken into consideration.

It is also important to ensure that all employees (and management alike) have clear policies and processes to follow to be able to raise issues with their employment, in an environment where they will not be vilified for speaking out.  Not just because it is a matter of risk mitigation and brand protection, but because it is the right thing to do.

As specialists in managing workplace issues and conflict, we can help should you need guidance in any of these matters.  Contact us for an obligation free discussion.

Note: BuckettLaw takes no responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of our articles. Any views expressed or comments made in an article are the writers option only. The content in our articles does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal or expert advice you should obtain specific advice about your case or matter from a professional. For legal advice based on your individual situation please contact us to speak with one of our expert lawyers.

Enjoy a complimentary 15-minute phone call as a first-time offer.

Barbara Buckett

Barbara Buckett is a highly experienced senior employment lawyer with over 35 years of practice in New Zealand. She provides expert advice on all areas of employment law and has a proven track record of delivering excellent results for clients. Barbara has extensive experience in resolving workplace issues and is an experienced litigator. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, working out, and fine wine and dining with friends.

Get new posts delivered to your inbox

Never miss anything!The BuckettLaw team will keep you up to date with employment law news & legal updates.

More Reading...

Free Phone Call With Our Expert Employment Lawyers

Consult our experts about your employment questions. Get a free 15 minute phone discussion.