Employee dismissed after police probe reinstated

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The Employment Relations Authority has ordered a “large financial institution” to reinstate and compensate a manager it had fired after police investigated the individual for suspected corruption and money-laundering.

The ERA heard that the man, known as Mr A, was never charged with an offence and had worked for the unnamed company for two years

The company had no prior concerns about Mr A's employment, but this changed when police investigated the man over allegations of "corruptly receiving payments" and money laundering.

In March, Mr A's immediate manager, "Mr Y", was told that police were about to execute search warrants at Mr A's home and at one of the company's branches. He was told to keep the investigation confidential and the next day police searched Mr A's home and then interviewed him at the local police station for five hours, the decision said.

Afterwards, Mr Y and the company's HR head met with Mr A and informed him in writing that his employment was suspended pending a disciplinary investigation.

Mr A's lawyer asked the company to postpone the disciplinary inquiry as it could prejudice Mr A's right to a fair trial if the police investigation led to charges being laid. The company refused and dismissed Mr A in June.

The company told the ERA that it had carried out a fair and proper disciplinary investigation, which they had modified to ensure his right to silence was not jeopardised. The organisation said the fact police were conducting a criminal investigation and had executed warrants raised concerns over the company's continuing trust and confidence in the man.

However, the ERA disagreed and ruled the man's suspension and dismissal was unjustified and ordered the company to pay $2,000 compensation to him and reinstate him to his former position.

Authority member Anna Fitzgibbon said Mr A was put in “an impossible position”.

"Answering the company's questions in order to retain his employment meant he may jeopardise his right to a fair trial," she said.

"The company's continuation of its disciplinary process into Mr A's conduct while the police were conducting an investigation was unjustified in the circumstances and affected his employment to his disadvantage.

"No charges were laid in the almost three-month period leading up to Mr A's summary dismissal on June 12.

"As it happened no charges were [ever] laid by the police," Ms Fitzgibbon said.






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