A former Christchurch teacher has been awarded nearly $18,000 in compensation after she was fired from her job at a foreign-language school for ''reasons she knew nothing about".

In a decision released yesterday, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled that Canterbury College unjustifiably dismissed Brenda Benge from her job as an English teacher in 2009.

A year after she had last been working for the college, Benge's hours were cut from 23 a week to 15 after another teacher took over her classes while she was on leave.

It appeared the reason behind the change was that Benge fell out of favour with the college's owner, Sue-Ann Wang.

ERA member Helen Doyle ruled that Benge had been promised fulltime work and was disadvantaged by the cutting of her hours.

''Ms Wang had become unhappy for some reason at Ms Benge and in all likelihood this led to decision about who should get the teaching hours at the College ... Ms Benge has a personal grievance of disadvantage,'' she said.

One month after her hours were cut, Benge was told there was no more work for her.

College director David Pepperle told the authority he had said there was no more work for Benge ''for the following week'', but Doyle rejected that explanation.

''If [dismissal] was not the intention of the college they took absolutely no steps to advise her of the correct situation,'' she said.

Doyle ruled that Benge was unjustifiably dismissed by the college ''for reasons that she knew nothing about'' and that the college had breached good-faith obligations and the obligation to act fairly and reasonably.

''She was dismissed before there was a proper attempt made to resolve her issues about her hours,'' Doyle said.

Benge was awarded $9090 for lost wages as a result of her hours being cut, $727 for loss of a holiday pay entitlement and $181 for loss of KiwiSaver benefits.

She received a further $8000 in compensation for humiliation and loss of dignity caused by the unfair dismissal-From Stuff.co.nz