The Employment Relations Authority has rejected an employees’ claim of unjustified dismissal after discovering that the employee’s conduct warranted immediate dismissal.

The employee worked for the employer for less than two months before his employment came to an end. The employee was at work when he entered into a restricted area in an attempt to complete his work faster. The employee knew that the area was off limits to him, but decided to enter anyway.

The area was off limits as it was the operation area for heavy machinery, which the employee was not trained to use. This meant that entering the area posed significant risk to the employee’s health.

The employee’s supervisor saw the employee in the restricted area, and called out to him to get him to leave the area. The employee left the area, and walked away in an attempt to evade the supervisor.

The supervisor pursued the employee through the workplace in an attempt to explain why the employee should not have entered the restricted area. The supervisor followed the employee into an office, where he was shoved. The pair fell out of the office, at which point the employee punched the supervisor in the face, and repeatedly kicked him in the head and face while he was on the ground.

The supervisor suffered serious injury as a result of the attack.

Another supervisor told the employee to wait outside whilst the situation was resolved. The employee responded by swearing at her, and threatening to do the same to her as he had done to the supervisor.

After the employee left, he received an email stating that he was being dismissed from his employment immediately, due to his violence and threats towards his colleagues. The employer stated that these actions amounted to serious misconduct, and were grounds for immediate dismissal.

The employee brought claims of both unjustified dismissal and unjustified disadvantage to the Authority.

In assessing the unjustified dismissal claim, the Authority decided that the employee’s actions were serious misconduct and warranted an immediate dismissal. His conduct left the employer no alternative other than immediate dismissal, as the threats of violence toward his employers rendered any potential reconciliation or consultation unrealistic.

The Authority did decide that the employer had not followed the correct process in regard to the dismissal, as he should have been offered an opportunity to comment and provide feedback on the dismissal. This was seen to unjustifiably disadvantage the employee.

It was however decided that because the employee’s behaviour was strongly causative of the situation, and that the employee’s actions were outrageous, the employee was not entitled to receive compensation as a result of the disadvantage, as it was decided to be of his own making.

The employee was not awarded any compensation.

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


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