The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claimed for unjustified dismissal after an employee was fired by text message.

There was an altercation at work following demands by the employee to be paid his unpaid wages and the employee was physically assaulted by the employer and the employer also made threats to harm the employee and the employee’s family. 

Unsurprisingly, the employee left the workplace and went to the Police to make a complaint.  He was then also taken to the hospital as a result of the severe upset he suffered because of the threats.

The employer then sent a text to the employee dismissing him on two weeks’ notice. 

The ERA had no difficulty finding that no proper process was followed and that the dismissal was unjustified.  The employer sought to avoid liability by claiming that the text had come from her husband and that he had no authority to fire the employee.  The ERA held that the husband was in daily contact with employees and managed the workplace on a daily basis.  He was therefore held out as having authority to make decisions such as hiring and firing staff.

The employee was awarded $1,760 unpaid wages plus $20,000 compensation for the hurt and humiliation suffered by way of the unjustified dismissal.  The award was higher than normal because of the total lack of process and the physical assault and threats of harm to both the employee and his family.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer