An employee working as a driver was dismissed after he complained to his employer that his vehicle was unsafe to drive. The employer concluded that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle and instructed the employee to keep working. The employee refused to do so, and became abusive towards his manager.

The Employment Relations Authority upheld the employee’s personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal. The ERA held that the employer failed to act as a fair and reasonable employer could in the circumstances by failing to raise its concerns with the employee, and by failing to provide the employee with relevant information relating to the disciplinary investigation. As a result, the employee was not fully or fairly informed of the employer’s concerns and had no opportunity to comment and respond to them before he was dismissed. Accordingly, the employer was unable to genuinely consider the employee’s explanation for his conduct.

The ERA also found that the employer had failed to sufficiently investigate the disciplinary allegations. The employee’s manager was the leading investigator and found that it was not necessary to collect information from other witnesses as he had already formed the view that the employee’s conduct was threatening, disruptive, abusive and difficult. The ERA held that it was inappropriate for the manager to conduct the disciplinary investigation when he was the main witness, and found that the decision to dismiss the employee was predetermined.

The ERA ordered the employer to pay $10,030 for lost wages and $4,000 compensation for distress plus $2,000 in costs.