The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay over $56,000 after deciding that an employee’s dismissal was unjustified.

From the first day of her employment, the employee experienced bullying at the hands of her boss.  On her first day of employment, the employee was yelled at, and consistently degraded by the employer.

The employee raised concerns about the employer’s conduct in her third week of employment, and raised an official complaint a few days later.

A letter was sent to the employee stating that an independent investigator would look into her complaints, and would advise as to whether they were substantiated.

Two months later the investigator issued a report which included findings of workplace bullying, and unreasonable conduct by the employer towards the employee.

The investigator concluded that the employer did not view the employee as a worthy candidate for the role, and did not treat her in a way that is expected of an employer.

Upon receipt of this report, the employee sent an email to the president of the business setting out her concerns arising from her interactions with her employer.

The employee did not receive a response to this email. She followed up with an email requesting information of the process following her substantiated complaint, and noted that nearly three months had passed since her initial complaint.

Nothing was done to resolve the issues, and the employee eventually decided to resign, as she was suffering from stress and anxiety as a result of having to work with the employer. The employee raised a personal grievance claim of constructive unjustified dismissal with the Authority.

The Authority had to decide whether the failure of the business to remedy the issues was reasonably likely to have led to the employee’s decision to resign. It was decided that the employee resigned as a direct result of the failure to fix the issue, when they knew her claims of workplace bullying were substantiated.

The Authority decided that this failure to intervene was not what a reasonable employer would have done in the circumstances, and decided that the dismissal was therefore constructive and unjustified.

The employer was ordered to pay over $26,000 as reimbursement for unpaid wages, as well as $30,000 as compensation for the hurt and humiliation caused by the dismissal.

If there is confusion around the correct processes to follow when operating as an employer, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley & Matthew Binnie

Litigation Team