The Employment Relations Authority has dismissed an employee’s claim for unjustified written warnings and dismissal when complaints arose over her negative attitude and misconduct at work. The employee had received previous warnings over her bad attitude at work and had undergone a performance improvement process.  

The allegedly unjustified final warning was issued after a disciplinary meeting was held with the employee over her swearing at a colleague. The employee did not deny this occurred and provided a statement on the circumstances that led to the altercation. This warning was found to be justifiable by the ERA as a fair and reasonable employer could conclude that swearing amounts to misconduct and a final written warning was the appropriate consequence in the circumstances.

The employee further acted inappropriately by instructing a colleague to obtain confidential documents from secure storage and copying them for her personal use. Her employer raised another disciplinary meeting in which the employee again did not deny her actions. This resulted in her dismissal.

The ERA was satisfied the employer followed the correct disciplinary process by investigating the concerns, informing the employee of the complaint and giving her time to prepare a response. The ERA also stated that a fair and reasonable employer could come to the same decision in light of the prior warnings and the employee’s lack of co-operation.

It is important that employers follow the correct processes when addressing complaints around behavioural issues to avoid claims of unjustified warnings and dismissal. 


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