The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance, and ordered an employer to pay an employee, after the employee was constructively dismissed.

The employer was a friend of the employee and hired him to help with his start-up business. The business struggled financially and the employee was not paid his full pay.

After the employee and a support person confronted the employer, the relationship began to break down. The employer suggested they both take a week off. The employee left town to visit friends.

The employer demanded the return of the business keys while the employee was away. The employer turned up to the employee’s home in the company of “undesirable elements” and confronted his father. The employer continued on a threatening text and social media campaign against the employee and his friends.

The police recommended that the employee not return to work for his own safety.

The Authority held that the failure to pay the employee was a breach of a fundamental term of the employment agreement. The breach amounted to a constructive dismissal, as it forced the employee to look for an alternate source of income.

Additionally, the Authority held that the threats and abusive messages by text and social media meant that the employment relationship could no longer continue, and also resulted in the employee being constructively dismissed.

The employer was ordered to pay $9,529 in outstanding wages and holiday pay, $20,800 lost wages, and $20,000 as compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

The Authority further ordered that if the company could not pay, liability would be transferred to the Director of the business in his personal capacity, as he was directly responsible for the conduct.

It is important employers understand that if they act in a manner which makes it impossible for the employment relationship to continue, they may be liable for expensive grievances.

If there are concerns that actions of an employer have breached the terms of your agreement, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.


Alan Knowsley