The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a claim for unjustified dismissal from an employee who the employer claimed resigned, but the employee believed they had been fired after being told to go from the workplace after an altercation.

The employee made it clear to the employer that they had not resigned, but the employer sought to rely on the employee’s actions of leaving the workplace after telling the employer that he did not need to put up with their behaviour and he was “outa here”.  The actual language used by the employee was somewhat more colourful.  The employer responded with similarly colourful language.

The Employment Relations Authority held that the employer should not have tried to rely on an ambiguous statement from the employee and should have clarified with him the position.  Telling the employee to go and sending him away from the workplace was an unjustified dismissal.

The employee was awarded three months wages and $10,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation.

If an employee, in the heat of the moment, does resign or says they are leaving the workplace, then the employer should, after a cooling down period, make enquiries with the employee to ascertain whether they have really intended to resign. They should give them an opportunity to return if the resignation was just made in the heat of the moment with no real intent to resign.

Alan Knowsley

Employment Lawyer