Terranova Homes & Care Ltd v Service & Food Workers Union Ringa Tota Inc [2014] NZCA 516

29 October 2014

On 28 October 2014, the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment dismissing the appeal by Terranova Homes and various aged care interested parties against the Employment Court decision in favour of Kristine Bartlett.

The Court Appeal noted it was a difficult case, not least due to the wording of the legislation, which it described as "elliptical", and there were strong arguments on both sides.  However, it concluded that the Employment Court had correctly held that:

(a)   any evidence of systemic undervaluation of the work in question derived from current or historical or structural gender discrimination must be taken into account; and

(b)   evidence of wages paid by other employers or in other industries may be taken into account if wages paid by the defendant employer or other employers in the same industry would be an inappropriate comparator.

A decision has yet to be made by Terranova Homes (and others) to file a further appeal to the Supreme Court.   In the absence of any appeal, the parties will either agree a "fair wage" or return to the Employment Court for a ruling.

We will be undertaking a detailed analysis of the case and provide a further update.  However, it is likely that there will be a significant number of claims raised following the decision of the Court of Appeal (putting aside that approximately 2500 claims were filed in September by the SFWU on behalf of members).

At this stage, before engaging in any discussions or addressing any claims on pay equity, we strongly recommend seeking advice from us first.

For the full text of the judgment click here.