The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay over $51,000 after the unjustified dismissal of an employee.

During his employment the employee’s role within the business began to change. The employee was hired to do a specific task, but after a few months of work this task was allocated to another member of staff. When the employee pushed back on this, he was invited to a meeting with his employer, who was based in Australia.

During this meeting, the employee was informed that he was in fact being demoted. The employer’s reason for this was that he wanted to give somebody else a chance to perform this role, and that he didn’t like the employee’s attitude towards the job. The employee did not return to work after this meeting.

Text messages were sent to and from the employer in which the employee stated that he would not be returning to work if he was not reinstated to his former role. The employer confirmed that this was not going to happen, and that his employment was therefore over.

The employee brought a claim of unjustified dismissal to the Authority.

The Authority decided that the dismissal of the employee was unjustified.

The employer followed no dismissal process. None of the employer’s concerns were raised prior to the dismissal, and no opportunity to respond was offered. This was not how a fair and reasonable employer could have conducted themselves in the situation, and the dismissal was therefore unjustified.

The employer was ordered to pay:

  • $23,400 as reimbursement of lost wages;
  • $22,000 as compensation for the hurt and humiliation caused by the employer;
  • $3,600 as payment for the employee’s notice period; and
  • $2,420 in holiday pay arrears.

If there is confusion around the proper dismissal process it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area. There is also a full free guide for employers to the disciplinary process on this page of our website. Free Disciplinary Process Guide

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