In an important case, an employer was ordered to pay over $7,000 for hurt feelings and unjustifiable dismissal.

The employee was teased about his sexuality.  He eventually handed in his notice and intended to work out the four week notice period but was suspended four days later.

Following an investigation, it was found that the employer would taunt the employee about being gay.  He would also mimic the employee around the office and on one particular occasion went so far as to make a comment when the employee’s back was exposed.

After the employee resigned, the employer tried to find the employee work at a gay newspaper or magazine.

The partner of the employee became offended, phoned the employer and threatened him.

The employee raised a personal grievance on the grounds of disadvantage and dismissal without justification.

The Employment Relations Authority took all issues into consideration and found in favour of the employee.

The employer was ordered to pay around $7,000 compensation, which included 9% interest on some monies owing to the employee calculated from the date the employee should have received all money by.

This case provides two important reminders … that employers must not harass employees, and should adhere to the proper processes when dismissing an employee.  Dismissals must be justified and cannot simply be on racial, sexual or any other unacceptable grounds.