The Employment Relations Authority has upheld claims of unjustified disadvantage and unjustified dismissal after a CEO was suspended, and then sacked following a disciplinary process.

The ERA held that the employee was wrongly suspended without pay because he was not given an opportunity to comment on the suspension prior to it being decided on. In addition there was no right to suspend without pay despite it being in the employment agreement.

The employee was also wrongly dismissed because he was not properly advised of the allegations or of the disciplinary meeting, and was not told he could bring a support person. Other employees who had acted in the same manner (sales outside their territory) were not disciplined. Other allegations were not sufficiently serious, or too old, to be relied on.

The ERA concluded that the employer had predetermined the outcome. It awarded compensation of $20,000 plus unpaid wages (during the suspension) of $9,500, and an unpaid bonus of $3,000. The employee is also entitled to lost wages following the dismissal (still to be calculated, but could be three months).

It remains to be seen if the employee will recover any payment as the employer has gone into liquidation.