Too Good To Be True

Heat of the moment resignations are not uncommon in the workplace. Such resignations are a relief for an employer, when such a resignation is from a troublesome employee.

However, it is not that easy as a recent case shows us.

In the case of Kostic v Dodd, Mr Dodd, the employer, alleged that Mr Kostic, the employee,  had been grossly insubordinate and had assaulted him. Mr Dodd allegedly told Mr Kostic, using colourful language, to leave.

Mr Kostic then responded to his employer with a hail of expletives, saying that Dodd “could stick his job and sell his cars himself”.

The employer, Mr Dodd, considered that Mr Kostic’s  words were a resignation and thus refused to discuss the matter further. Mr Kostic then claimed he had been unjustifiably dismissed.

At the Employment Relations Authority (“ERA”) it was found that Mr Kostic had not been unjustifiably dismissed.

However, on appeal to the Employment Court it was held that Mr Kostic had been unjustifiably dismissed as Mr Kostic’s words were said in the heat of the moment, and a reasonable employer would have discussed the matter once everyone had cooled off.

Mr Kostic was awarded $7,200 in lost earnings and $8,000 for distress.

The moral of the story, is that a problematic employee’s resignation said in the heat of the moment, may be too good to be true. The test is what could a fair and reasonable employer do in the circumstances, and it appears accepting such a resignation is not considered fair and reasonable.

If you have any employment queries that you would like assistance with, please contact us.

This article is intended as a point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this article.

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