The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal following a recent hearing. The employee had been sacked after he covered three cameras on the bus he was operating. He was originally accused of serious misconduct for covering the cameras. After he explained why he covered the cameras (privacy while relieving himself) the allegation was changed to not removing the cover off one of the three cameras.

The ERA found that the investigation was not carried out in a fair or reasonable way. The employer failed to provide the employee with the Camera footage or stills from the video when it said it would and not showing the video to the employee and his representative until near the end of the disciplinary process. Evidence should be provided early in the process, so the employee can consider it and fairly respond.

The employer also changed its reason to find serious misconduct to include an allegation of dishonesty in the employee’s responses to the allegations, but did not put this dishonesty allegation to him fairly. The finding as to dishonesty was also not based on any reasonable evidence.

The ERA decided that the dismissal was unjustified and reinstated the employee to his job. It also ordered the employer to pay 3 months wages plus compensation for the harm suffered of $16,000.

Employers must ensure that their disciplinary process is fair and reasonable. Allegations must be put to the employee and they must be provided with supporting evidence at an early stage. They must have a reasonable opportunity to prepare their response and it must be fairly considered. In this case none of those things occurred. Despite the employer going through a lengthy disciplinary process, it got it wrong at each step of the way. 

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