The Employment Relations Authority has ordered an employer to pay $13,000 after the employee was bullied by his employer. The employee raised a personal grievance claim of unjustified disadvantage to the Authority after resigning due to the working conditions.

The employer made jokes at the expense of the employee, calling him “useless” and stating that he was “worthless and stupid” in front of other employees. The employee asked the employer to stop putting him down in front of co-workers numerous times, but the treatment persisted.

The employee texted the employer asking when he was expected to return to work after the Christmas closedown period, to which he received no response. The employee then began to look for other work. A month after sending the text, the employee resigned and commenced work for another employer.

The Authority decided that the treatment of the employee by his employer was bullying behaviour, and that this embarrassed and stressed the employee. This led to the Authority deciding that this was an unjustified disadvantage because the employer’s behaviour was determined to be unreasonable and inappropriate.

The Authority also found that the employer failed to pay him for six days’ worth of work and had not paid him holiday pay for the duration of the employment relationship.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay $3,000 as compensation for the wages and holiday pay that the employer failed to pay, as well as $10,000 as compensation for hurt, humiliation and injury to feelings.

If there is confusion around the responsibilities of an employer in an employment relationship, it is wise to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

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Alan Knowsley