The Employment Relations Authority has rejected a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal, but found an unjustified disadvantage for failures in the process.

The employee got into a heated argument with an employee of another business when making a pick up from their premises.  Verbal abused flowed both ways in public while the employee was wearing the company uniform.

The employee was then assaulted with a broom by the other company’s worker.  All this was captured on CCTV footage.

The employer raised allegations in relation to the incident and also in relation to abusive language the employee used when a manager questioned him about the incident.

It did not give him the CCTV footage to look at which was supportive of his position that he was physically assaulted and it also did not give him access to the internal emails about the investigation.

The ERA found that the company could correctly decide that the employee’s abusive language, both to the other worker and to their manager, was serious misconduct and they could reasonably dismiss him.

However, he was unjustifiably disadvantaged because of their failure to provide the CCTV footage and emails.  He had no opportunity to view them or make comments in response.  He was awarded $7,500 compensation, but this was reduced to $5,000 due to his actions causing the incidents.

If the employer had correctly provided the information it held about the incidents it could have still dismissed him and avoided paying compensation for its breach of process.  It pays to know your obligations when handling a disciplinary process.


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Alan Knowsley

Employment Lawyer