Murdered at work
The District Court at Waitakere, on 14 October 2013, issued a long-awaited Decision regarding a security guard who was murdered at his place of work on his first night of employment. We successfully defended the Employer, CNE Security Limited, which faced a number of charges, some of which were eventually withdrawn by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (the new Labour Department). In particular, the Department prosecuted the Employer on the basis that it had allegedly failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of the Employee at work, and that he was exposed to the risk of harm while carrying out his security duties at the worksite. A group of strangers unlawfully entered the workplace and an altercation ensued, resulting in the Employee’s death. The District Court, in a lengthy Decision, held that the charges had not been proved, even though they were charges of strict liability.
The law set a high benchmark in what it required of employers, but each case must still be determined on its own unique set of facts. The Employer employed the Employee as an experienced guard seeking additional casual employment. The Court held further that the Employee was able to carry out his basic tasks, and a tragedy befell him. However this did not change the relevant issues with regard to this prosecution, and the Court had no evidence before it by which it could determine that the Employee was not properly inducted or checked on in the particular circumstances. The Court held that the site was a low-risk site, and the fact that the Employee died there was unfortunate, but it did not change the circumstances and the assessment. The Court considered various codes of practice, the industry practice, and otherwise held that whether or not these practices were applied, it would have made no material difference to the tragic outcome.
Clients may have seen the current publicity.
The alleged murderer was very recently found not guilty in the Auckland High Court. However, the issue which confronted the District Court related only to the Employer’s liability regarding the nature of the worksite and whether or not the Employer had taken all practical steps to protect its Employee.