The Employment Relations Authority has rejected a personal grievance claim for an unjustified dismissal from an employee who posted an aggressive and offensive post on Facebook.

The ERA found that the employer carried out a fair and reasonable investigation into the allegations before reaching a conclusion that it would dismiss the employee.  The ERA found that:

(i)            the employer investigated the allegations sufficiently;

(ii)           the employer fairly outlined the allegations and explained the implications if serious misconduct was found;

(iii)          the employer gave the employee a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations before it made its decision on the allegations;

(iv)         the employer properly considered the explanations given by the employee;

(v)          the employer gave the employee a reasonable opportunity to respond to its decision to dismiss before it imposed that sanction; and

(vi)         the employer considered the responses from the employee before it finalised its dismissal decision.

The employee at the disciplinary meeting admitted making the social media post and admitted that it breached the organisation’s policies.  This meant that the employer was right to conclude that the aggressive and offensive language used in the Facebook post was in breach of its policies on social media use and went against the values of the organisation.

The employer was justified in reaching a decision to dismiss the employee because this was serious misconduct and the employee was on a final warning for prior threatening and intimidating behaviour.  Even if the employee had not been on a final warning, the behaviour in this case would have justified dismissal as serious misconduct on its own, even though the employee had worked there for 27 years.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer Wellington