The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal, and ordered an employer to pay an employee over $19,000 after he was dismissed following a disciplinary process.

The employee was accused of having sexual contact with a customer in a staff-only area. When the allegation was raised with the employer, an investigation began.

The employee was invited to a meeting that he was not told the purpose of. At the meeting he was asked a large number of questions before being given a letter and informed he was suspended.

During the investigation, other members of staff were interviewed. None of the staff including the supervisor witnessed the incident.

Despite the lack of a witness to the incident, the employer decided to dismiss the employee for serious misconduct.

The Authority held that failing to allow the employee an opportunity to respond before his suspension was a flaw in the disciplinary process.

When considered alongside the outcome of the investigation, without reliable evidence, the Authority found that the process was unfair and the conclusion was not one that a fair and reasonable employer could arrive at.

The employer was ordered to pay the employee $2,435 for lost income during suspension, $7,267 lost wages after the dismissal, and $10,000 compensation.

When undertaking a disciplinary process, it is important to follow the process correctly. This includes seeking input from the affected employee, and only making decisions based on the evidence gathered in the course of the investigation.

Failure to follow the process correctly can result in an expensive personal grievance. If you are concerned about the process or outcome of a disciplinary process, 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-priced 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.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer