TWO sacked New Zealand milk factory workers accused of “serious misconduct” for doing the Harlem Shake at work have temporarily got their jobs back.
Henry Taufua, a packer and robot operator, and Craig Flynn, a filling machine operator, were fired after Fonterra discovered two YouTube videos of a milk factory style Harlem Shake filmed at its Auckland plant.
In one of the videos, Mr Taufua is seen riding on a paper trolley while Mr Flynn dances around the room with other employees.
In the other Mr Flynn dances with a shovel between his legs.
Fonterra sacked the two employees for breaching the company’s code of conduct and health and safety policies, saying the pair engaged in activity that constituted serious misconduct.
It submitted the company had lost trust and confidence in the employees’ judgment following the incident and their reinstatement would be detrimental to work colleagues.
But the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled the pair should be given back their jobs until a substantive hearing, stating they have an arguable case against their dismissal.
“Whether a fair and reasonable employer would have dismissed these applicants as opposed to the alternative of warnings is a matter for hearing,” the authority said.
The ERA found the loss of income would “create financial hardship in the interim until the hearing”.
The authority said whether the pair had violated their collective agreement was to be determined in the substantive hearing.
A date for the hearing has not yet been set.
The Harlem Shake is an internet meme, where groups of people perform a dance to a excerpt from the song “Harlem Shake”.
It became a global YouTube trend with New Zealand Super Rugby’s Crusaders and Blues uploading versions, along with other notable sporting teams including Manchester City and Swansea City.