28 Oct 2015

Facebook boast costs man resignation payout

2:13 pm on 28 October 2015

A man who boasted to a former co-worker about his golden handshake has had to pay most of it back after it was found he breached the confidentiality of his settlement.

Facebook image

Facebook image Photo: Supplied

Graeme Vivian resigned from food wholesaler Bidvest's Palmerston North branch in October last year and was paid $4500 in compensation.

In February, a chance encounter with a former co-worker in a supermarket spurred Mr Vivian to send him an insulting private Facebook message.

As well as insulting other staff at Bidvest, Mr Vivian's message boasted about his payout.

"At least I got paid a lot of money to leave even though I was going to quit the next week," it said.

The co-worker later showed the message to Bidvest managers.

Bidvest took the case to the Employment Relations Authority.

The company's Palmerston North general manager, Andrus Lei, told the authority the message had the potential to encourage other workers to resign.

He said the message "immediately spread through the business like wildfire and has been the talking piece of many a lunch and smoko break".

The authority found Mr Vivian breached a confidentiality provision in his settlement agreement and ordered him to pay Bidvest $3000.

Mr Vivian's lawyer, Karl Gill, said Bidvest was to blame for the Facebook comments Mr Vivian had made as it had "planned and carefully orchestrated actions... to force a negative reaction".

Mr Vivian apologised for sending the message and said he had been subjected to ridicule and harassment from Bidvest staff during his time there.