The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.  An employee of 20 years’ service was dismissed on medical grounds after he suffered a second episode of epilepsy at work.  Following the initial episode the employee was cleared to return to work under a buddy system so he was not alone if he had a further episode.

The employee while working did suffer a further episode and the employer decided to investigate termination for medical incapacity.  The medical reports obtained did indicate that the employee would be safe to return to work as he got prior warning of the onset of an epileptic episode and could therefore remove himself from dangerous machinery.  However the employer decided to terminate for medical incapacity on the basis of the dangers of an accident around machinery and because they did not believe the employee was being completely truthful with them.

The ERA held that the employer was wrong to dismiss on the basis of the evidence that it held. It found that no reasonable employer could believe that dismissal was justified when the medical evidence pointed to safety to return to work. It also found that any issues of the employee not being truthful had not been put to the employee for him to respond.  The ERA awarded $20,000 in compensation.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer