The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay $18,000 after they dismissed an employee over an incident which required an ambulance call-out.

The employee was driving a bus full of school children when he noticed smoke coming from the vehicle. He pulled over and evacuated all passengers, but some suffered from smoke inhalation and had to be taken to hospital.

The employer blamed the employee for the incident, saying it was his driving that had caused the smoke. The employee was dismissed by email, the employer stating that it was “simply untenable” to employ him any longer. 

The employee raised personal grievance claims with the Authority for both unjustified disadvantage and dismissal.

The Authority firstly decided that the employee had been unjustifiably disadvantaged in his employment because he had never been given an employment agreement. That failure was a breach of the Employment Relations Act.

The Authority also decided that the employer had not acted fairly and reasonably in all the circumstances, and the dismissal of the employee was therefore unjustified. The employer had not kept the employee informed throughout the process, nor had they considered any explanation from him.

The employer was ordered to pay $18,000 in compensation to the employee, as well as $3,000 in wages lost as a result of the dismissal.

There is an important process which must be followed when dismissing an employee. If you are confused about this process, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors