The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified disadvantage and unjustified dismissal after a long term employee received a final warning and then was dismissed for falsifying company records.

The ERA held that the company failed to act as a reasonable employer at every step of the way.  The events that resulted in the final warning were not properly investigated and the final decision maker had not participated in the process so had no basis to reach the decision they did.

The employee was suspended without being told of the allegations against them so they could not respond prior to the suspension. The suspension was therefore unjustified.

The employee was then dismissed following an investigation into allegations of falsifying company training records.  The ERA held that there was no evidence to support the finding that the employee had falsified the records and so the decision to dismiss was unjustified.

The ERA awarded $2,500 for the unjustified warning and suspension, $15,000 for the unjustified dismissal and lost wages of $26,500 (over a six month period).

Allegations must be put to employees and they must be given an opportunity to comment before a suspension, the decision maker must fully participate in the investigation process and findings must be supported by the facts.  Failing to follow these requirements cost this employer over $44,000 in damages plus their own costs and time in defending the claims.