The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal and ordered an employer to pay over $5,500 after an employee was immediately dismissed following a disciplinary meeting.

The employer emailed the employee with various concerns regarding the employee’s work performance. The concerns included the employee’s negative attitude towards the employer and the business, and the employee’s lack of response to their attempts to solve issues. The employer also had concerns that the employee was working with another company.

The employer proposed a meeting with the employee to discuss their concerns. During the meeting, the employee responded to the employer’s concerns unhelpfully and no resolution was made.

The employer then commenced a disciplinary process. A second meeting was proposed and the employee was warned that he may be dismissed with or without notice depending on the outcome of the meeting. 

During the second meeting, the employer summarily dismissed the employee because they had lost “all trust and confidence” in the employee, and they believed he was untruthful. The employee later raised a personal grievance of unjustified dismissal with the Authority.

The Authority decided that the employee had been unjustifiably dismissed. During the dismissal process, an employer is expected to act fairly and reasonably. This includes undertaking a fair process, ensuring the employee is informed and allowing the employee a chance to give feedback on the proposed dismissal.

The Authority decided that the employer had failed to inform the employee of the accusations against him, nor had they given him a chance to respond. This clearly failed to meet the standard expected of a reasonable employer.

The employer was ordered to pay $1,000 in costs and four weeks wages to the employee, as well as $4,500 in compensation for hurt and humiliation. This penalty was decreased significantly due to the employee’s contribution to the breakdown of the employment relationship. 

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.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors