The Employment Relations Authority has found that an employer would have been justified in dismissing an employee for serious misconduct if it had got its process right.

The employer had a policy of no alcohol on the premises which the employee breached on two occasions.  When the employer found out it suspended the employee and commenced a disciplinary investigation.  However, it failed to give the employee an opportunity to discuss the suspension before it was imposed.

In addition the employee failed to turn up to the disciplinary meeting and instead sent in a medical certificate claiming sickness.  The employer proceeded to make a preliminary finding of serious misconduct when it should have held off doing so until the employee had another opportunity to respond to the allegations.

The ERA refused to award any lost wages as the employee failed to give evidence of attempts to find another job.  The ERA also said the damages awarded must be caused by the breach by the employer.  As the employer would have been justified in dismissing, the damages could only arise from the poor process, not the dismissal itself.

The appropriate compensation was said to only be $2,000 and this was reduced to $1,000 for the contributory conduct of the employee.

Alan Knowsley
Employment Lawyer