An employee has resigned after alleging that her employer failed to maintain a safe workplace. The employee was verbally abused by a colleague to which the employer responded by meeting with the colleague. At the meeting the employer gave the colleague a final warning, and requested that he apologise to the employee.  On hearing the action taken, the employee was unsatisfied and consequently resigned.

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

The ERA found that the employer was attempting to resolve the dispute between the two employees, and that he had reasonable grounds to believe that his actions of warning were sufficient to prevent further incidents.

The ERA held that the employee failed to adequately raise her concerns with the employer before resigning and that the employer could not, based on the information he had before him, have done anything more.

The ERA held that the employee’s resignation was premature as the employer had no opportunity to consider her response and therefore did not breach any duty. The ERA noted that potential solutions to the matter were cut short and that parties owe each other a duty to refer the dispute at least to mediation.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer
Wellington