The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal against the management of a ship.

The employee dismissed had raised allegations in relation to the other employees on the ship.  Those allegations of sexual misconduct were dealt with including an apology from the other employee.  However, that employee then went on to become Master of the ship and the employee who was dismissed alleged that the Master’s behaviour towards her continued to be inappropriate and she sought to change shifts, so that she would be under a different supervisor.  That change of shifts was denied by the company.  The company then moved to terminate her for incompatibility.

The ERA found that the relationship between the two employees was not irreconcilable, but that the employer had failed to take appropriate action recommended by an independent investigation.  That had recommended management training for the Master of the ship which had not been done.  The management training was actually given after the employee was terminated and as a result of the training the employee did change their behaviour and became more mellow in their dealings with employees.  That showed that, had the proper training been given at the time, there was no need to dismiss the employee.

The Employment Relations Authority ordered the employer to pay three months wages plus $20,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation.

In this case the employer had investigated through an independent person, but had failed to follow the recommendations of the independent investigator.  This left them open to the claim that they had failed to take all reasonable steps to protect the employee and all reasonable steps to deal with any alleged incompatibility before they dismissed the employee.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer