The Employment Relations Authority has rejected a claim for unjustified disadvantage from a Senior Consultant at a South Island law firm.  The Consultant had previously been a Senior Partner in the firm and after retiring was re-engaged as a Consultant by the firm.

Some of the other Partners became concerned about his behaviour in inviting young female staff out to lunch and for drinks and for inappropriate touching of staff.  They had a meeting with him and brought up these matters in expectation that he would amend his behaviour appropriately.

However, shortly after the meeting he again sought to invite a young female staff member out for dinner and she raised the matter with the HR Department, because of the uncomfortable feelings she had as a result of these approaches.

The firm carried out a formal disciplinary process and issued a final warning to the Consultant for his behaviour.

The Consultant attempted to say that the process was unfair and disadvantaged him, but the Employment Relations Authority found that the process followed by the law firm was completely standard.  It had fairly brought the allegations to his notice and given him an opportunity to respond to them.  It then considered all the evidence before reaching a decision and issuing the final warning.  The Consultant’s claim was therefore dismissed.

Alan Knowsley

Employment Lawyer