The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay an employee over $50,000 after it unjustifiably disadvantaged and dismissed him.

The employee was stressed and frustrated about being overworked and feeling unheard in the workplace. During a team meeting, the employee had an outburst at the manager and stormed out of the meeting.

The manager followed the employee and a heated exchange took place in the carpark. The manager told the employee not to come back to work for the next few days.

The employee was sent a message a short time later advising him that he had been suspended.

The employer did not complete an investigation and instead invited the employee to a disciplinary meeting. At the meeting the employee was given the opportunity to respond to the incident, but the employer did not question any of the employee’s responses.

The employee was invited to a further outcome meeting. The employer told him that the preliminary decision was to end his employment. The employee was given an opportunity to provide feedback. The employer did not take any time to consider what was said and proceeded to tell the employee his employment was terminated with immediate effect.

The Authority held that several aspects of the disciplinary process were deficient. The employee’s employment agreement said that if suspension was considered, he would be provided an opportunity to respond. Instead, the employer suspended him on the spot, which was an unjustified disadvantage.

Additionally, failing to carry out an investigation or properly consider the employee’s responses in the final meeting made the dismissal unjustified.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay the employee $29,077 in lost wages and $22,500 in compensation.

It is important that employers understand how to carry out an adequate disciplinary process. Failure to do so may result in expensive grievances.

If there are uncertainties around how to carry out a lawful disciplinary process, it pays 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