The employer alleged that the employee had sent an email critical of the organization and which contained sensitive information to a third party. It appeared that the email had come from the employee’s email address and the sign-off included “sent on behalf of” the employee.

When the allegations were put to the employee, he denied sending the email and produced evidence to show that he did not send the email.

During the course of the investigation, the employer requested information that proved that the employee had not sent the email. After an investigation, the employer decided that although it was “very likely” that he had sent the email, the employer had decided not to pursue any formal disciplinary process.

The employee raised a personal grievance on the grounds that he was unjustifiably disadvantaged in his employment claiming that the employer’s investigation was flawed.

The employee did not believe that he was being given the benefit of the doubt because the employer’s conclusions would have negative impacts on his employment, including that the outcome letter would remain on his personnel file.

The Employment Court found that the employee was unjustifiably disadvantaged as the employer’s actions were not fair and reasonable. The employer should have taken further steps to obtain reliable evidence about the true sender of the email, and should not have required the employee to prove that he did not send the email.

This was a case where, despite that no disciplinary action was taken against the employee, the employment relationship had broken down because of a flawed process. The employee did not return to work for the employer, in part due to the stress the investigation had caused on his health.

The employer was ordered to pay $20,000 for the hurt, humiliation, and injury to feelings suffered by the employee, as well as almost $6,000 towards legal and IT costs.