Offensive cake: 'Bullying' manager keeps job

THE human-resource manager and food blogger who "bullied" a staff member into logging onto Facebook and finding a controversial cake photo is still employed by the company.

NZ Credit Union Baywide human-resource manager Louise Alexandra - who has been with the credit union since January 2010 - along with other NZCU senior staff, breached the privacy of a former employee, a Human Rights hearing found.

When asked if Ms Alexandra or CEO Gavin Earle would be dismissed or face disciplinary action yesterday, NZCU marketing and communications general manager Andrew Quayle said it was not appropriate to comment about the employees that were involved in the case.

Ms Alexandra did not return calls by Hawke's Bay Today last night.

On Monday, the Human Rights Tribunal ordered NZCU to pay former employee Karen Hammond $168,070.88 in damages for the breach which caused humiliation, loss of dignity, injury to feelings and harm to her future career prospects.

Ms Hammond resigned from NZCU on March 23, 2012, and a week later baked a frosty dessert for her workmate, whom she believed had been constructively dismissed.

The fruit and chocolate chunk cake, inscribed with "NZCU F*** YOU" and "C***S" in pink icing, was taken to a dinner party of 10 friends and an image uploaded to Ms Hammond's Facebook page.

Ms Alexandra, who, according to her LinkedIn profile, still works for NZCU and has also worked as a HR manager for Tumu Group and a senior HR adviser for Scion, was told on April 12, 2012 that a picture of a cake had appeared on Ms Hammond's Facebook page, by an employee who found it offensive.

The food blogger, who has posted about baking cakes under the name the beauty foodie, noted an NZCU employee, Hayley Edmondson, was one of Ms Hammond's "friends" and neighbours.

Ms Alexandra told her that Ms Hammond had deleted all her NZCU "friends" and that she was the only person who could access the photo.

Click here to read more on the NZCU cake story.
'Why I left NZCU' - bullied woman tells her story.

The HR manager told Ms Edmondson she was "a smart girl" and that by being an employee of NZCU, by law and policy she had to give up any information she might have and added she did not want to have to go down "the policy and procedure track".

Ms Edmondson said she was not comfortable about the request but Ms Alexandra became "quite stern and asked [her] to keep [her] voice down stating [they] were having a closed door conversation".

"Under duress" Ms Edmondson followed the senior manger's instructions before a screenshot of the cake was taken.

Later that afternoon, Ms Alexandra phoned at least four recruitment agencies around Hawke's Bay to "warn" them against employing Ms Hammond and sent them a copy of the photo.

Ms Alexandra, who holds a degree in human resources, admitted to the Tribunal that Ms Edmondson was "hesitant and not particularly forthcoming", but denied threatening her, adding she pleaded with her to do "the right thing".

The next day Ms Edmondson came to her office visibly upset about the events of the previous day.

Ms Alexandra apologised to Ms Edmondson for upsetting her but denied bullying Ms Edmondson during her evidence to the Tribunal.



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