The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal and ordered an employer to pay an employee almost $44,000 after firing him following a workplace injury.

The employee suffered a workplace accident resulting in injuries that left him unable to work. Before going to hospital, he told his employer about the accident. After being treated for his injuries the employee was given a medical certificate stating he was unfit to work. He gave the certificate to the employer.

While the employee was unable to work, the employer stopped paying his wages. The employee asked the employer why he had not been paid. The employer accused the employee of working while being injured and said that the Accident Compensation Commission was investigating him. When the employee spoke with ACC, they told him that he was not being investigated.

After giving the employer another medical certificate stating that he was unfit to work for several more weeks, the employee was given a letter dismissing him.

The Authority held that employer’s actions were not those of a fair and reasonable employer, and that the employee was unjustifiably dismissed. The Authority went so far as to describe the employer’s conduct as disgraceful in falsely accusing the employee of working while injured, and claiming that he was being investigated by ACC.

The Authority ordered the employer to pay the employee $15,600 in lost wages, $20,000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings, $1,200 for money that the employee missed out on from ACC, and $4,500 toward his legal costs.

The employer was also ordered to repay the employee $2,596 that it illegally deducted from the employee’s pay without written consent.

It is important that employers are well versed in their obligations toward employees. Failure to understand these obligations, and an employee’s rights, may result in an expensive personal grievance.

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

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.