A question of constructive dismissal
|Lynda Mathieson HRINZ
An employee resigned after alleging that her employer failed to maintain a safe workplace.
The employee was verbally abused by a colleague, to which the employer responded by meeting with the colleague. At the meeting, the employer gave the colleague a final warning and requested that he apologise to the employee.
On hearing the action taken, the employee was unsatisfied and consequently resigned.
Following her resignation, the employee filed a personal grievance claim for constructive unjustified dismissal through The Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
The ERA found that the employer was attempting to resolve the dispute between the two employees and that he had reasonable grounds to believe that his actions of warning were sufficient to prevent further incidents.
The ERA held that the employee failed to adequately raise her concerns with the employer before resigning and that the employer could not, based on the information he had before him, have done anything more.
The ERA held that the employee’s resignation was premature as the employer had no opportunity to consider her response and therefore did not breach any duty.
Managing constructive dismissal is a considered process that requires unbiased discovery, with all parties acting in good faith.
A couple lessons to take away here;
- Fully address concerns and potential solutions; in this case, they were cut short by the employee
- And if concerns cannot be resolved between parties, each owes the other a duty to refer to mediation
Lynda Mathieson HRINZ
Employment Relations Consultant
Mathieson Chartered Accountants Ltd
p: 027 55 44 747