The employee had refused to carry out his team leader’s instruction to make some deliveries. He was then dismissed, despite 22 years of loyal service.

The Employment Relations Authority upheld his personal grievance for unjustified dismissal and ordered that he be reinstated.

The ERA held that there was no basis for the dismissal as the non-delivery was only a minor misconduct according to his employment agreement. They found that there was no reason for the employer not to trust the employee, especially as the employee had a genuine reason for not making the deliveries. The employee believed that he had 5 days to make the deliveries and was unaware that this was a breach of the employer’s delivery rules.

The team leader should have responded to the employee’s comment that he was not going to make the deliveries and should have explained to him that they had to be delivered that day, because of the company’s policy.

It was also held that the employer failed to conduct a full investigation into the matter by not interviewing the key people involved, and also failed to provide the employee with a complaint from one of his colleagues.

The ERA awarded over $9,300 for lost wages plus $4,500 compensation for hurt and humiliation after a reduction of 10 per cent for the employee’s own contribution to his dismissal.

If a proper process had been followed and the matter dealt with at the correct level then appropriate disciplinary sanctions for failing to follow instructions could have been put in place.

 

Alan Knowsley

Employment Lawyer

Wellington