The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal after an employee used foul language to another employee in relation to her supervisor.  The employee was unwell and wished to take time off on sick pay but did not have enough sick leave to cover the period required.  She asked her supervisor to approve annual leave but this was refused.  After their meeting the employee complained to a co-worker.  The co-worker reported the exchange to management along with allegations of foul language.  Following an investigation the employee was dismissed for the use of the foul language.

The obscene language had been heard by two employees who confirmed to management what words were used.  However, the Employment Relations Authority found that there were inconsistencies in what the main employee who reported the language had recorded in a written statement of what was said compared to her later claim as to what was said.  The ERA found that the alleged foul language was not used and therefore the employer’s decision to dismiss was not one a reasonable employer could reach.  The discussion had been a private discussion between two employees and the language even if it had occurred was not directed to the supervisor.

The ERA awarded $6,700 being three months lost wages plus $6,000 compensation and costs.

Alan Knowsley    
Employment Lawyer