The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for an unjustified dismissal and ordered an employer to pay $15,000 after they fired an employee through a text message.

The employment relationship began to break down when the employer said it was compulsory for the employee to purchase tools for the job. The employee stated that he couldn’t afford these tools, so the employer put him on a weekly payment plan to pay off the tools. This plan charged 10% interest on top of the tool price, and was taken out of the employees’ wages.

After this, the relationship deteriorated further when the employee came down with a lung infection. The employer ordered that the employee take a drug test during his illness, which he failed. This was deemed by the Authority to be an inappropriate time to demand a drug test, as he was attending the doctors for a diagnosis on his condition.

The relationship reached breaking point when the employee crashed his car. The employer paid for the repairs, and subsequently demanded that the employee sell the car to pay him back for the repairs. The employer instructed the employee not to continue working until the car was sold.

A meeting was set up to discuss the employee’s future employment, but the day before this meeting was scheduled the employer sent the employee a text stating that no work was available for him, and consequently he did not turn up to the meeting.

The Authority decided that this dismissal was unjustified, as the employer was required to provide a reason to justify the dismissal, but failed to do so. As well as this, the employer failed to follow a correct consultation process, and didn’t offer the employee alternative employment options.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay $15,000 as compensation for hurt and humiliation and unpaid wages.

If there is confusion around the correct dismissal process of an employee, it is wise to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley