The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay over $26,000 to an employee, after finding that he was unjustifiably dismissed by the employer.

The employee attended a meeting to discuss a fellow colleague’s misconduct towards another member of staff. At this meeting, the employee stated that the colleague that had been accused of misconduct had lost his respect, and that the colleague comes across as a sexual predator.

After this meeting, the relationship between the employee and the director of the company changed. The employee threatened to take the company to court, which resulted in the employees’ suspension whilst the employer investigated the employee’s conduct. The employee was paid during this suspension.

The employer then sent the employee a letter highlighting allegations that he had called a colleague a sexual predator, had falsified time sheets, and had sent the director a message accusing him of certain behaviour.

This letter also invited the employee to a meeting to discuss the allegations, and encouraged the employee to comment on the proposed suspension by the end of the day if he wished.

The employee emailed the employer stating that the three days that he had been given to prepare was not enough time, and that he would not be attending the meeting.

The employee engaged a lawyer, who sent a letter to the employer denying all of the allegations, and claiming that the suspension was unlawful. It also claimed that the employee had been pressured and badgered into attending the meeting.

The employee and employer exchanged emails through their respective representatives, until finally the employee resigned, with the reasoning that the emails from the employer caused him severe stress and anxiety.

The employee’s lawyer then raised a personal grievance claim of unjustified constructive dismissal in the Authority.

The Authority decided that the suspension of the employee was unjustified and caused disadvantage to him, and that the investigation process undertaken by the employer was insufficient.

The Authority also had to determine whether the employee had been constructively dismissed. It was decided that the employee had resigned due to the breaches in the required employment standard by the employer, and that the resignation therefore constituted a constructive unjustified dismissal.

The employer was ordered to pay over $5,500 as reimbursement of lost remuneration, a $500 penalty, as well as $20,000 compensation for the hurt and humiliation caused by the dismissal.

If there is confusion about the process required when dismissing an employee, it pays 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 & Matthew Binnie

Litigation team