Daughter takes Fathers Yacht Business to Court Over Employment Dispute

Family disputes can be messy even without money, business or employment matters involved. A recent decision from the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) involved all three and saw a daughter taking her father’s business to Court over an employment dispute.



This dispute arose at a large yacht brokerage firm and was initiated by the daughter of its sole director, Tobie Erceg, who partially succeeded in her claim.

Erceg worked for Yacht Finders Global, an Auckland-based brokerage run by her father, Gary Erceg. However, two months after starting, she quit and raised concerns about the way she claimed to have been treated.



She raised two claims with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), one for unjustified disadvantage and the other for constructive dismissal She claimed $50,000 compensation to remedy her grievances.


Employment Status

The Authority had to first determine whether she was an employee of Yacht Finders Global. They found, despite the firms claims to the contrary, that Tobie was an employee. Erceg’s role was described as an integral part of the business and that although there was no evidence of an intention to create an employment relationship, there was an intention to pay her for her work.


Unjustified Disadvantage

Her claim for unjustified disadvantage stood on the fact that her job title was changed from ‘operations director’ to ‘customer co-ordinator’ at a meeting when she wasn’t present. She was successful in claiming that this had caused her humiliation and hurt and was rewarded $5000 in compensation as a result.


Constructive Dismissal

Her claim for constructive dismissal was not successful. The Authority found no evidence for alleged bullying, breaches of Covid-19 commitments towards her, or that she had worked “unreasonable hours”.

The ERA suggested that most of the tension likely came from the “usually informal” communication she had with her father within the context of the business. The claim for constructive dismissal was ultimately decided by the fact that Erceg left her job after action taken towards another employee and not herself.



This case is a clear example of how even family relationships can break down in business and draws attention to the importance of clear employment agreements, open communication, and healthy boundaries.

These issues can often be avoided but must be done so proactively.

If you have any questions or issues, you would like assistance with, the team here at Watermark Employment Law would love to assist you in the matter.

Get in touch with us here – we’re only one call away!