The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal and disadvantage, and ordered the employer to pay $18,000 in compensation.

Following an altercation at their workplace, the employee sent a threatening message to one of the business owners. A short time later, the employee was given a letter and informed they had been suspended, pending investigation. The employee was given another letter a few days later informing them they had been dismissed for serious misconduct.

The Authority decided although the suspension was likely warranted, the employee should have been given the opportunity to give their opinion.

Furthermore, no process had been followed during the investigation. The employee was given no opportunity to respond to the allegation and therefore their explanations could not have been genuinely considered by the employer. The employer also failed to adhere to their good faith obligation owed to the employee.

The Authority described the deficiencies in the process as “significant” and ordered the employer to pay the employee $6,280 in lost wages and $11,700 for hurt and humiliation.

Had the employer sought advice and followed the correct process, this outcome may have been avoided and the grievance not been raised.

When involved in disciplinary matters, it is essential the correct process is followed and all obligations between the employer and employee are met.

It is wise to seek advice from a professional experienced in this area and avoid potentially costly mistakes.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer