An employee has been dismissed after falling victim to bullying in the workplace. The employer would tell the employee that she was too old and unwell to be working. On one occasion, the employee made an error which cost the business almost $500. The employer yelled at the employee in front of other staff and deducted her pay.

A week later, when the employee was told that the employer wanted to speak to her she began to hyperventilate and had an anxiety attack. The employee obtained a medical certificate stating that she was unfit to work due to stress, and while on leave the employer terminated her employment.

The Employment Relations Authority upheld the employee’s personal grievance claims for unjustified disadvantage and unjustified dismissal.

The ERA noted that the employee had been bullied in the workplace by her employer, and that his behaviour had increased stress for the employee and made her feel incompetent and disempowered. The employer tried to claim that the employee’s stress was not work-related but attributable to family issues.

The ERA held that the employer failed to act as a fair and reasonable employer could in all of the circumstances by failing to follow a fair process when dismissing the employee over performance concerns.

The ERA ordered the employer to pay the employee $18,000 in lost wages plus $12,000 in compensation.