An employee has been dismissed for disobeying a lawful and reasonable instruction, and for walking off the job after the incident, without providing his employer with an explanation.

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

The ERA held that the employer’s dismissal process was procedurally flawed. The ERA noted that the employee was not aware prior to attending the disciplinary meeting that his employment was in jeopardy, and was dismissed without being given an opportunity to comment on the issues raised.

The employee was also not provided with all of the information relied on by the employer, and was therefore not in a position to be able to fully respond. The ERA noted that if the employee had been provided with all of the relevant information he could have advised the employer that another staff member was present during the incident. The employer could then have taken a statement from the witness which may have supported the employee’s account of events, however no investigation was undertaken prior to meeting.

The ERA further noted that the termination letter failed to provide the employee with any reasonable explanation for his dismissal.

The ERA ordered the employer to pay the employee over two months lost wages plus holiday pay and KiwiSaver contributions for that period. This amount was reduced by 25% for the employee’s contribution to the events. The employee was also awarded $5,250 ($7,000 reduced by 25% contribution) compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.