Updated: May 23
A Record of Settlement (RoS, called an NDA in some countries) is the document that results from a completed employment mediation. A basic RoS template is available on the website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). 12-15,000 of these documents are uploaded to MBIE each year, to be blessed by an MBIE official.
A party can put anything in a RoS and offers range from legitimate compensation packages in exchange for an employee’s resignation on that date and relinquishment of the right to raise a personal grievance claim, to a promise not to get caught blacklisting the departing employee (yes, that happens), and anything in between.
What could possibly go wrong? And what’s Glen Benton from Deicide doing on our pic? Let me explain.
A 2013 report made to Hamilton City Council under the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. One whistleblower lost his job over this, in January 2014, as reported in the media. The property manager raised a personal grievance in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA, part of MBIE), and the dispute was quickly sent to mediation, where the parties settled the following month. Seven years later (!) the Council sued the former property manager in the ERA for breaching the non-disparagement clause within the RoS, sensitive souls that they are, and disclosing the existence of the RoS itself. While they appeared to be successful on paper, it’s unlikely that they’ll be receiving a cent, because of some malfeasance that tainted the proceedings throughout (and probably contributed to the CEO’s departure). The $18,000 in penalties has been challenged to the Employment Court anyway, and for all we know the Whistleblower report could be doing the rounds as we speak (we’ve chosen to show only the front page). Nice work, Hamilton City Council.
Reporter Michael Wright from Stuff has described how Dunedin teacher David “Bummer” Bond’s sexual proclivities went undetected for decades. Bond left the school, and the teaching profession, in 2014. Since then, the complaints have kept coming in and Bond is now facing jail time. While we don’t know whether there was a RoS that covered up his offending, we were able to re-examine a similar matter (not in Dunedin), also from 2014. A publicised document confirmed that there was a RoS, which among other things caused parents of the affected children to be stonewalled, however that secret RoS did not prevent the teacher concerned from being locked up for a while.
This is a scrunched-up and therefore desecrated mock-up from a RoS template. It’s an agreement for a senior officer of Enron to sign out a fictitious $0.5M bonus to another senior officer just before Enron collapses in a wave of accounting scandals. Yes, the humble RoS can be used effectively as an instrument of fraud. But the Enron boys have already done their time, so let’s move on.
Reporter Hamish McNeilly, also from Stuff, broke the story last month about a chef who would apply for work at Dunedin eateries and sometimes be offered a brief trial. When the business owners decided against employing Benjamin Tapper-Norris (a.k.a. Artemis Davis), he would assert that he had been verbally offered a job and had turned down other offers because of this. He then gouged at least seven business owners in mediations, for confidentially agreed amounts ranging from $2,000 to $6,000. Eventually his luck ran out, and he got exposed by the owners of the Swan Cafe who had refused to go to mediation.
That brings us to Glen Benton, whose death growl is arguably the best in the business. He’s known to be no friend to the sanctimonious types. Being from Florida, Benton probably doesn’t know much about New Zealand employment law, but if he heard those who go on about the “sanctity and integrity” of The Holy RoS, given the examples raised above, he’d probably have something to say about that. Like take your RoS, roll it up in a tube, and.... never mind.