An employee bought a claim to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) that she was constructively dismissed as a result of bullying and condescending treatment. Her employer, a drug and alcohol clinic, had found errors with her record-keeping which raised concerns as to the impact this would have on patients. They arranged multiple meetings with the employee regarding support at work and implemented a catch up period for the employee to correct her work followed by a review before she return to her usual caseload. The employee subsequently resigned during this period.

The ERA found that this did not constitute a constructive dismissal. A constructive dismissal is when an employer deliberately engages in repudiatory conduct with the main purpose being to coerce the employee to resign. It can also occur when an employee is given the choice between resignation or dismissal, or when the employer’s breach of duty causes the employee’s resignation.

The ERA concluded that the employer’s efforts to provide extra support to the employee were genuine and could not be taken as trying to force the employee to leave the organisation. Additionally, it was not known to the employer that, by providing this kind of support the employee would face emotional issues causing her to resign.

Furthermore, the employee had found replacement employment before she resigned which the ERA said is in line with her resignation being voluntary, and not a constructive dismissal.

It is important for employers to make a genuine effort to support their employees when there are performance concerns at work to avoid the legal consequences of constructive dismissal.


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