An employee has been dismissed after being accused of accessing “sex related” websites on his work computer during work hours. The employer also alleged that the employee had jammed the office printer with downloaded material of a highly personal nature from dating websites.

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

The ERA found that the employer failed to act as a fair and reasonable employer could in all of the circumstances by failing to obtain evidence which supported their allegations.

The ERA noted that a forensic report confirmed that dating websites had been accessed on the employee’s work computer but that no pornographic sites were opened.

The ERA found that the employee was open about his internet use at work and that it fell within a reasonable level of personal use which was permitted by the employee’s employment contract.

The ERA ordered the employer to pay the employee over $60,000 for lost wages plus $7,000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.