An employee working as a childcare worker has been dismissed by email after being accused of smoking at work. The employee walked out of the workplace, which prohibited smoking, after being confronted by her manager. The employee admitted to smoking before the beginning of her shift.

The Employment Relations Authority upheld the employee’s personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal.

The ERA found that the employee’s employment agreement had not been terminated by her leaving the workplace. Instead, the manager unfairly dismissed the employee by not consulting with her before making the decision to dismiss her, and by not undertaking a fair dismissal process.

The ERA ordered the employer to pay the employee $3,500 in compensation for hurt and humiliation but reduced the amount to $1,750 as a result of the employee’s behaviour which contributed to her dismissal.