The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for an unjustified dismissal.  A sales person was accused by management of selling multiple items contrary to the employer’s policies. 

He was asked to a disciplinary meeting, but was not given the allegations in advance.  Instead at the meeting he was given a 16 page list of allegations.  He requested 48 hours to read the allegations and prepare a response, but this was refused and he was given only 30 minutes to do so.  He did make explanations, but was fired shortly thereafter.

The ERA, unsurprisingly, found that this was not a fair process.  The employer should have given him the allegations well in advance and given him an opportunity to prepare and to be supported by a representative or support person at the meeting and in preparing his responses.

In addition the employer failed to properly investigate the matters that the employee was able to raise (on the limited notice he was given), such as that his managers in the store had approved the sales.  The ERA found that the employer had predetermined the outcome and did not check with the store managers for confirmation of what the employee was saying they had approved.  The employer’s explanation was that he had thought the managers would just lie to cover for the employee so did not bother to ask them.

The employer’s cavalier attitude and poor process resulted in an award of $37,500 lost wages, $10,800 for lost benefits (sales incentives) and $18,000 compensation.

In addition the employer lost the services of a sales person who had been their top sales person for many years.  If they had carried out a proper investigation they would have found that he had not done anything wrong and they would have been able to retain his services and kept $66,000 in their bank account.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer Wellington