StayinFront plaintiffs win court date

Customer relationship management vendor StayinFront has failed in an application to the Employment Court in Auckland to have amended personal grievance claims by two former employees struck out.

StayinFront had claimed that final and binding settlements for Joanne Louise Skinner and Warren Gregory Tobin had been entered into in 2002 at the end of their employment.

Tobin was a former executive vice-president of the company. StayinFront had sued him for punitive damages after he instituted grievance proceedings against the company with the Employment Relations Authority.

Tobin had filed a court action in New Jersey to enforce his rights under a stock purchase and severance agreement. The case was settled in 2004. Subsequently he filed a wrongful dismissal case, which led to a StayinFront suit in the U.S., alleging that Tobin had breached a covenant he made not to sue by bringing the employment case in New Zealand.

StayinFront was created in 2000 when local CRM developer Great Elk merged with U.S. vendor Windsoft.

Tobin, who is now managing director of mobile developer Altaine, says he does not want to talk about the contents of the case.

"It's moving forward, I guess. I'm confident there will be the outcome I expected in the first place."

Tobin says StayinFront is still countersuing in the U.S. and he is not opposing that. "I was employed in New Zealand, worked in New Zealand and I'm seeing through my grievance in New Zealand," he says.

Tony Bullen, StayinFront's Auckland-based Asia Pacific VP, says the case is being run out of the U.S.

"My understanding is that large portions of what they brought to court got struck out and partially one thing didn't," he says.

"We are appealing that."

He says the matter is a "shoulder shrug" until the appeal is heard.

In amended statements of claim, Skinner claimed harassment and constructive dismissal.

Similarly, Tobin claimed constructive dismissal and taint accompanied by threats of dismissal and ruination in the absence of a resignation.

Judge Shaw said in his decision that all of the evidence related to the defense asserted by StayinFront, which raised disputed questions of fact and law had to be determined at trial.

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