Workplace Bullying and HarassmentClaimsWhen misconduct has occurred in the workplace, it is important that a thorough workplace investigation is conducted, as soon as possible, in accordance with the rules of procedural fairness and natural justice.

It is important also, to ensure that incidences of misconduct are not mistaken for serious misconduct. The following examples given by Employment New Zealand, are a rough guide to determining whether misconduct is serious enough for summary (instant) dismissal.


Serious misconduct is generally defined as behaviour, either intentional or otherwise, that destroys confidence and trust in the employee. Some examples of behaviour that could constitute serious misconduct include:

  • Violence

  • Bullying

  • Sexual Harassment

  • Theft or Fraud

  • Behaviour that endangers health and safety

  • Use of illegal drugs or being intoxicated while at work

  • Dishonesty


Examples of misconduct can include:

  • Obscene language

  • Misuse of the internet at work

  • Minor instances of failing to follow reasonable and lawful instruction

  • Wearing inappropriate clothing

  • Lateness

If you’re unsure whether your matter should be treated as serious misconduct, our experienced team can look at the evidence and advise if there is sufficient grounds for termination of the worker’s employment or whether other remedies are viable to prevent further workplace misconduct.

We can further advise you on correct procedures for summary dismissal to ensure your decisions cannot be challenged down the track.


Misconduct outside work can warrant disciplinary action  if:

  • the behaviour damages confidence and trust in the employee
  • the conduct affected the reputation of the employer
  • the conduct is related to the fundamental nature of the employee’s job role and will affect their ability to continue the role.

Our expert team of workplace investigators can gather the required evidence and advise you on how the matter should be dealt with.