Helping employers defend a personal grievance

Where personal grievances do arise, we have significant experience in assisting employers to resist the claims through a variety of techniques, both in writing and across the table through advocacy at mediation. We are one of Wellington’s most prolific users of the mediation service and one of the most successful firms of advocates at employment mediations. We are also experienced advocates at the Employment Relations Authority.

The first step in the process associated with a personal grievance is to formally answer the grievance in writing. We are often able to develop compelling arguments to dispose of matters at this stage.

If a grievance cannot be resolved by answering it in writing, the matter usually then proceeds to mediation. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides a free mediation service to address employment issues. Mediation is a voluntary form of dispute resolution that aims to facilitate conversation between parties to reach an agreement. Mediation is flexible as it is not restrained by legal rules and processes and the parties are free to agree or disagree. The major benefit of mediation is the ability to resolve disputes more cost-effectively and faster than an Employment Authority or Employment Court case.

Our approach to rebutting a personal grievance is to argue the reasonableness of the employer’s approach. The test in the Employment Relations Act 2000 requires that an employer’s actions are reasonable in all the circumstances. We draw upon our extensive and up-to-date knowledge of decided cases to argue that the employer’s actions pass this test. Many grievances are conducted by no-win no-fee employment advocates that usually do not have the same access to legal cases and the knowledge that we can provide our employer clients.

There are other useful ways to address a personal grievance. The Authority and Court must also consider reducing any remedy owed to an employee if the employee has contributed to the problem with their actions. Arguing employee contribution is a powerful way to combat personal grievances in the right circumstances.

It is also worth noting that we have in-depth knowledge of the practical aspects of resolving disputes and the ways in which good results are leveraged. These are problems we fix every day, whereas they will likely be rare in your business. We are often able to negotiate very cost-effective resolutions directly with advocates or other lawyers given we are well known, strong and respected employee advocates.

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