A woman who lost her job during a company restructure has been
ordered to pay her former employer $1,000 for breaching the
confidentiality provision contained in a mediated settlement
Ms Priest and Auckland City Couriers entered into a mediated
settlement agreement which included a standard confidentiality
The parties will keep confidential these terms of
settlement, all matters discussed in mediation, and the background
circumstances which led to the parties entering into this
The day after the record of settlement was signed, Ms Priest
spoke with a co-worker of Auckland City Couriers about a tent she
was having delivered. In that conversation, Ms Priest inadvertently
referred to her mediation and made some comments about it.
Auckland City Couriers wanted the mediation kept quiet as it was
in the midst of a restructure. The company didn't want
employees to know about mediation with one of the affected
employees and, by implication that the company had settled with
Auckland City Couriers was able to establish that one of the
principal reasons it felt able to settle with Ms Priest was because
of the benefit of confidentiality. That benefit had been lost by
the actions of Ms Priest and there was a sense of irreparable
The Employment Relations Authority held it is important that
employees in such situations understand that the confidentiality
sought by an employer is not an "arid or vacant
construct." This is so even where a breach is inadvertent and
The Authority considered that there must be some response to a
breach, otherwise confidentiality undertakings in a mediated
settlement agreement would be a meaningless gesture. Accordingly
the Authority directed Ms Priest to pay Auckland City Couriers
$1,000 as a penalty for the breach of the mediated settlement
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