A Workplace Relations Commission adjudication hearing was told that the motor dealer had responded badly to the news that his ex was planning to live closer to her new boyfriend.
The employee said that when she told the motor dealer the news in April of last year, he responded: “I want you gone, get your stuff and go”.
“Of course the inter-personal relationship between the parties played a part in the matter,” said Pat Brady, the adjudication officer.
The pair’s relationship had ended years before and they had ‘an amicable agreement’ concerning her employment: if her new relationship made things difficult, she would give three months’ notice and leave.
However, when she told her boss about her plans to move he dismissed her.
“I can see no basis on which the complainant could do other than take them at face value and as an indication that her employment was being terminated,” Mr Brady said.
She did not return to work and she left behind her company car, although her employer had made no reference to it.
The hearing heard that the man called her a number of days later and informed her that she “did not have to lose her job over the incident”.
Mr Brady said he found the man “evasive and unclear” and the subsequent call did not amount to a “heat of the moment” defence as the clarification had not happened quickly enough.
“Three days is too long to undo a ‘heat of the moment’ action. The complainant said that at that stage it would have been too uncomfortable for her to go back as her departure was known to her co-workers,” Mr Brady said.
The dismissal was found to be unfair under Mr Brady’s general reasoning that the employer had a particular responsibility in the management of the employment relationship.
She remained out of work for five months and also lost social welfare benefits to which she was entitled as a part-time worker.
“The words he uttered were at best irresponsible and at worst, (and more probably) a clear indication to the complainant of the termination of her employment,” he added.