The Employment Relations Authority has recently upheld an employee’s personal grievance claim of unjustified disadvantage after his employer sold items of his property without his consent and mistreated him as a manager.

The employee’s individual employment agreement stated that he was employed in a managerial role. The agreement also provided that the employee would receive items of stock free of charge as part of his employment.

The employer decided to sell their business and in the process hired another employee to help prepare for sale. During that time the manager was mistreated by both the employer and new employee.

The manager’s input was consistently ignored by the employer and he was no longer involved in the decision making of the business. He was treated as a mere employee rather than a manager. The manager noted that he had previously had a healthy relationship with the employer.

During this time the employer also sold part of the employee’s stock without his knowledge or consent. The stock was recorded as the employee’s legal property.

After the business was sold the employee was dismissed by way of redundancy. The employee then brought a claim of unjustified disadvantage to the Authority.

An employee will be unjustifiably disadvantaged where their employment or any condition of their employment has been affected to the employee’s disadvantage by an unjustifiable action.

The Authority decided that the employer and new employee had both clearly treated the manager as a “newbie”, while his employment agreement stated he held a managerial role. These actions could not be justified by the employer.

The employer had also failed to communicate with the manager in an engaging and respectful manner. This lead to the eventual breakdown of the relationship and the manager’s choice not to communicate with the employer any longer.

The Authority decided that the evidence clearly showed that the property sold by the employer was legally owned by the manager. The employer had no right to deal with or sell the property without the manager’s knowledge or consent.

The Authority decided that the employer’s actions were unjustifiable and amounted to either a breach of the manager’s employment agreement, or a breach of good faith. The employee was therefore unjustifiably disadvantaged in his employment.

The employer was ordered to pay $6,000 in unpaid wages as well as $1,400 for the manager’s unaccounted property. The Authority also ordered the employer to pay $20,000 to the employee in compensation for hurt, humiliation and loss.

It is important to be aware of your obligations as an employer. If you are confused about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors