The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay an employee over $12,000 for unjustified dismissal.

The employee and several other staff were sent to complete a job in a remote area. The employer provided a work vehicle for employees use while they were away.

The employee and a colleague were drinking after work. They decided to drive to the beach using the work vehicle.

The employee’s colleague decided to drive. The police pulled over the vehicle and breath tested both people, and both failed.

The employee informed the employer of the incident and was invited to a disciplinary meeting. The meeting invitation did not explain the employer’s concerns, material that would be relied on in the meeting, or that the employer was considering the incident as grounds for serious misconduct.

During the meeting, the employer informed the employee of the allegations and possible consequences. The employer asked the employee to respond without having had an opportunity to consider the allegations or review the material.

The employee was dismissed without notice at a follow-up meeting.

The Authority held that failing to provide the employee with the allegations, their consideration of serious misconduct, or to give him with the material it would be relying on made the process unfair. Therefore, the dismissal was found to be unjustifiable.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay the employee $2,046.80 for lost wages and $10,000 in compensation.

It is important that employers follow the correct process in disciplinary situations, and take care to observe their obligation of good faith toward their employees. Failure to do so may result in costly grievances.

If there are concerns around how to carry out a proper disciplinary process, or about a process that an employer has carried out, 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
Employment Lawyer