The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay $19,130 after the unjustified dismissal of an employee. The employee raised a personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal after she was dismissed via a letter from the employer.

The employee received over 20 verbal warnings as well as numerous written complaints regarding her job performance during the first few months of her employment. These complaints included:

  • Showing up late;
  • Leaving early;
  • Using her phone whilst at work;
  • Smelling like marijuana; and
  • Allegations of aggressive behaviour when discussing disciplinary measures with the employer.

Prior to receiving the dismissal letter the employer and the employee had a discussion regarding an allegation made by a customer that the employee was smoking marijuana in a parked car near her place of employment.

During this discussion the employer stated that the employee was going to be dismissed later that week through a letter and invited the employee to a meeting to discuss the dismissal.

The letter that the employee received contained several reasons for the dismissal, none of which mentioned her alleged use of marijuana. The concerns included poor attendance, poor work quality, and failure to follow instructions.

No meeting was ever conducted by the employer.

The employee raised a personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal in the Authority.

The Authority decided that the employee was not provided with adequate warning, as whilst there were several warnings made by the employer, they were insufficiently detailed to constitute a formal warning.

The letter was also deemed to be improper in terms of process, as it did not state when the dismissal decision was made and did not contain the actual reason for the dismissal. The employer claimed that there were a number of reasons for the dismissal, but these were not explained to the employee in the dismissal letter. This was regarded as a procedural failure by the employer.

The failure to organise a meeting to discuss the dismissal and the lack of opportunity to respond were also regarded as breaches of the required dismissal process by the employer.

The Authority discovered that the employer had been paying the employee less than the minimum wage throughout the course of her employment.

As well as this, the employer failed to pay the employee for the required notice period.

The employer was ordered to pay $15,000 as compensation for the distress caused by the dismissal, $3,260 for the unpaid notice period, and $870 to make up for underpaying the employee.

If there is confusion around the correct dismissal process of an employee it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

 

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