The Employment Relations Authority has recently reinstated an employee after a successful claim of unjustified dismissal.  

The employee notified her employer that she was suffering significant stress due to her work duties and that she was having difficulties with her manager. The employee also claimed that she was being harassed at work.

The employer investigated the employee’s claim about her manager, but the claim was eventually dropped by the employee. The manager later provided evidence of on-going difficulties in his relationship with the employee, and the employee’s co-workers also began to make complaints about her.

The co-workers complained about feeling micromanaged, pressured by the employee to do better without being given direction, and borderline abusive behaviour.

The employer launched an investigation into the employee’s conduct. The employee was notified of the investigation and the reasons behind it, and was placed on leave while the complaints were investigated.

The employer’s investigation concluded that it would be detrimental to the employee’s co-workers if she were to continue to work for the employer. The employee was invited to a meeting to discuss these issues and was later dismissed by letter.

The Authority had to determine whether the employer had acted as a fair and reasonable employer would have in the circumstances. This included looking at the process taken by the employer and the resources available to them.

In this case, the Authority decided that the employer had not kept the employee sufficiently informed throughout the investigation process. The employer failed to give reasons for the employer’s initial decision to dismiss her, and had not kept a record of the various complaints made by her co-workers. The employee was therefore unable respond to the specific allegations made about her.

The Authority also decided that the employer’s failure to properly investigate the employee’s complaint about her manager was a failure in the dismissal process.

For the dismissal to have been conducted through a fair process, the employee’s concerns should have been considered, and she should have been given a chance to respond to the allegations and evidence provided against her.

The Authority ordered that the employee be reinstated in a position at the same level as her previous position. The employer was also ordered to pay 12 months lost remuneration as well as $25,000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

It is important to be aware of your obligations as an employer. If you are confused about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors