An employee’s employment was terminated after she attended a meeting with her employer to discuss concerns about her aggressive behaviour, her leaving work early and an issue of dishonesty. The employer attended the meeting with a document addressed to the employee raising their concerns and which contained a resolution to terminate the employee’s employment.

The employer argued before the Employment Relations Authority that the employee had left on her own will and that their decision was not predetermined. The employee stated that she had been dismissed.

It is common in employment situations for there to be a dispute about what happened. It is up to the Authority member to assess the evidence of the parties on the balance of probabilities to find out which version of events is more likely than the other to have occurred. Sometimes an Authority member may assess the credibility of the parties involved to help determine what actually happened.

The ERA found in these circumstances that a reasonable person would have thought that the employee had been dismissed.

The ERA held that the dismissal was unjustified as the employer had carried out an insufficient investigation into two of the allegations and seemed to have pre-determined the decision to dismiss the employee. In these circumstances, the ERA found that the employee had no reasonable chance to respond and the employer could not have genuinely considered any explanation given by the employee.

The employee was awarded $5,000 in compensation for hurt and humiliation including a reduction of 50% for the employee’s contributory behaviour as the ERA had made a finding of serious misconduct and the conduct was considered blameworthy and had caused the disciplinary process.

Mikayla Turner
Employment Lawyer
Wellington