Courage v Attorney General 2022 NZEmpC 77

Employment Court - Boys

The issue for the Employment Court was whether three former residents of the Gloriavale Christian Community had been employees during their time there.

Overview of the Case

Gloriavale is described as a self-sustaining Christian Community with its residents living what might be referred to as a communal lifestyle. It is made up of a Trust, a Partnership, a nominee company, a holding company, and a number of limited liability trading companies to operate a variety of commercial enterprises, including a honey making plant and a dairy farm.

Hosea Courage, Daniel Pilgrim and Levi Courage were born into the Community and carried out work starting from the age of six. All three of them left Gloriavale and sought a declaration that they were employees when performing work for the Community.

The Gloriavale defendants denied that the plaintiffs were employees. They claimed that any work undertaken between the ages of six and 14 was chores or work required by their parents; that work undertaken when they were 15 was part of their schooling; and that work undertaken from 16 years of age was done on a voluntary basis. There was no intention to enter into an employment relationship at any stage.

Ruling

In her  58-page judgement Chief Judge Christina Inglis made declarations that Hosea Courage, Daniel Pilgrim and Levi Courage were employees from the age of six through to when they left the Gloriavale Community.

Read a summarised version of the court judgement on the Daily Vale.

The plaintiffs also claimed that the Labour Inspector breached their statutory duties. This aspect of the claim centred on a report of the Labour Inspector, concluding that people working in Gloriavale were volunteers.

Read the Media Statement the court released.

Impact

If you are an ex-member of Gloriavale and are interested in knowing how this may impact you, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Brian Henry is offering to initially act as an agent for dealings with the Labour Inspectorate.

Please fill in the form on this page and your details will be passed through to Brian Henry’s legal team.

How Did We Get Here? A Detailed Background

The Timeline

2020

Gloriavale members criticise leaders

Two members of Gloriavale walked out in secret to raise serious allegations against the community leaders of control, long work hours and mental abuse.

September 24, 2020
2022

Boy's Court Case Begins

Today the Employment Court met to hear from ex-Gloriavale residents Levi Courage, Daniel Pilgrim and Hosea Courage, who were plaintiffs in this case.

February 21, 2022

Boy's Court Case Ends

Chief Judge Inglis hears the final witnesses (from Gloriavale and from MBIE) and reserves her judgement. Court is adjourned and we begin the wait to hear the final verdict.

March 4, 2022

Boy's Court Case Ruling

Chief Judge Christina Inglis ruled that each of the three plaintiffs was an employee from the age of 6 until the time they left the community, and that they are entitled to costs.

May 10, 2022