If you can show you have been wrongfully (or "unjustifiably") dismissed, you can bring a personal grievance claim against your employer to the Employment Relations Authority. For information on personal grievances, see How to bring a personal grievance against your employer.
The courts have interpreted unjustified dismissal as including both actual and "constructive" dismissals (see below for constructive dismissals).
For a dismissal to be justified it must be both substantively and procedurally fair â€“ that is, there must have been a good reason for the dismissal ("substantive fairness"), and the way in which the dismissal was carried out must have been fair ("procedural fairness"). The employer must have acted fairly and reasonably. The new EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS ACT 2000 (which came into force on 1 October 2000) also requires employers to act in good faith when taking disciplinary action.
There are a variety of substantive reasons that would justify dismissal. Serious misconduct justifies immediate (or "summary") dismissal, without the need for any warnings to be given; examples of serious misconduct include theft, assault, breaching work rules and disobeying direct instructions. Lesser forms of misconduct or poor work performance require warnings to be given before a dismissal will be justified.
Frequently claims for unjustified dismissal will arise where a proper procedure has not been followed leading up to the termination, even though there might have been a legitimate reason for the dismissal.
If you are dismissed for poor work performance or misconduct there are procedures that your employer must follow, including a proper investigation of the facts, the opportunity for you to consider and respond to any allegations, and the right to be represented. Any breach of this procedure is likely to make the dismissal unjustified. For this procedure, see How to discipline an employee and How to dismiss an employee.
There may also be an unjustified dismissal even though there was formally no dismissal at all - this is known as a "constructive" dismissal. Examples are where:
It is unlikely that the Employment Relations Authority (which replaces the Employment Tribunal) will find in your favour if it considers that the employer acted reasonably and with justification or if there has been no breach of duty by the employer.
The premature termination of a fixed-term employment contract may justify lodging a personal grievance claim based on unjustified dismissal. In this situation the damages will usually be the salary for the remainder of the term of the contract.
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