The Employment Relations Authority has recently upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal and ordered an employer to pay almost $20,000. The Authority decided that the employer’s reasons for dismissal were unjustified, and they had failed to follow a fair procedure.

The employer received a number of complaints in relation to the employee’s conduct, made by both customers and other workers. The employer discussed these complaints with the employee and issued her with a warning.

The warning provided that if the employer received any further complaints regarding the employee, they would have to terminate her employment.

A week later, another incident occurred in which the employee requested the help of a Police officer. The officer de-escalated the situation and the employee was able to carry on with her work activities.

The employer later complained that the incident was not reported by the employee, and immediately dismissed her for serious misconduct.

The employee raised a personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal with the Authority. In order to determine the grievance, the Authority had to consider what a reasonable employer could have done in the circumstances.

The Authority decided that the incident could not have been considered serious misconduct. The employee’s involvement of the Police actually de-escalated the situation in a safe manner for both customers and other members of the public.

The Authority also found that the employee had actually reported the incident to the employer. The employee had immediately called to notify her employer of the matter and an incident report had been completed the day of the incident.

Following the employer’s finding of serious misconduct, no fair procedure was followed before dismissing the employee. The employer did not discuss the allegations with the employee, nor did they give her an opportunity to give feedback on the accusations.

The employer immediately dismissed the employee without further questioning. The Authority decided that a fair and reasonable employer could not have dismissed the employee in such a way. Given that finding, the Authority decided that the employee had been unjustifiably dismissed.

The employer was ordered to pay almost $5,000 in lost wages, as well as $15,000 in compensation for hurt, humiliation and loss.

It is important to follow a fair and justified process when dismissing an employee. If you are confused about your obligations as an employer, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price 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 and Hunter Flanagan-Connors