Hallwright loses bid for $63k bonus after road-rage incident

The Employment Court at Auckland has denied Guy Hallwright the chance to get his job back and a $63,000 bonus after his conviction stemming from a road-rage mishap.

In June 2012 the former Forsyth Barr analyst was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard to Sung Jin Kim during a September 2010 incident. Mr Hallwright did not appeal the court’s decision.

Forsyth Barr began disciplinary proceedings and dismissed him for serious misconduct months after his conviction.

Mr Hallwright was driving his daughter to an appointment when he and Mr Kim entered a dispute at a Mt Eden traffic light. Mr Hallwright ran over Mr Kim as he left the scene.

Mr Kim broke both legs and shattered an ankle, which required reconstructive surgery.

The incident happened on September 10 and Mr Hallwright was charged 10 days later.

He applied for, and was granted, name suppression. He also considered the incident to be personal and not work related, so he didn’t notify Forsyth Barr until just before the suppression was to be lifted in December.

Judge Christine Inglis outlined the media circus that ensued in her 37-page judgment. These included headlines with the company’s name and links from a Whale Oil blog to that of Forsyth Barr in November before suppression was to be lifted.

“It is not necessary that the conduct itself be directly linked to the employment but rather that it have the potential to impact negatively on it,” she says in her judgment.

Mr Hallwright claimed he was entitled to a bonus for the final six months of his employment. To calculate the bonus, he proposed taking an average of the previous periods, which led to an estimate of $63,000.

Forsyth Barr claimed taking an average was unacceptable because any bonus would depend on the company’s and the individual’s performance. Further, only 40% of workers in his division received bonuses for that period and most were junior staff.

Judge Inglis agreed with Forsyth Barr and says bonus payments are discretionary.

“I do not consider the basis for the claim for the bonus payment has been adequately made out and I accordingly decline to make the orders sought by the plaintiff,” Judge Inglis says in her judgment.

Mr Hallwright filed and lost his claim with the Employment Relations Authority, which found he was justifiably dismissed. Judge Inglis agreed he was justifiably dismissed in her judgment and she wouldn’t have ordered him to be reinstated even if it was unjustified because of the breakdown of trust between Mr Hallwright and his boss, managing director managing director Neil Paviour-Smith.

Queen’s counsel Peter Bruce Churchman represented Forsyth Barr, and Queen’s counsel Albert Waalkens and Matthew John McGoldrick of Swarbrick Beck Mackinnon represented Mr Hallwright.

sflores@nbr.co.nz

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