The Employment Relations Authority has upheld claims for unjustified disadvantage and unjustified dismissal and ordered an employer to pay an employee over $24,000.

The employee worked for the employer for a little over a year. During this time the employer was regularly abusive toward her. There were also instances where the employer acted aggressively towards the employee.

Several incidents occurred during the employment where the employer requested that the employee lock the business in fear of her partner coming to assault her.

As a result of the incidents, and the failure of the employer to address them despite the employee raising the issues, the employee’s health suffered and she resigned.

Throughout the employment, despite requests from the employee, she was never provided with an employment agreement.

The Authority held that the employer breached her obligations to provide the employee with a safe work environment, and to treat her in a safe and reasonable manner. It explained that this placed the employee in a situation where it was foreseeable that she would resign, and she was therefore constructively unjustifiably dismissed.

The Authority additionally held that the failure to provide the employee with an employment agreement was an unjustified disadvantage as it would have provided her with other ways to deal with the workplace problems.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay the employee $533 in lost wages and $20,000 in compensation for the constructive dismissal. A further $4,000 penalty was ordered against the employer for disadvantaging the employee by failing to provide an employment agreement, $3,200 of which was payable to the employee.

It is important that employers are aware of their unwritten obligations toward their employees, including good faith, providing a safe work environment, and to treat employees fairly and reasonably. Failure to be aware of and comply with these obligations may lead to expensive personal grievances.

If there are concerns about what obligations are owed to employees, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

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