While employees have the ability to pursue personal grievances, employers also have the ability to sue employees for breaches of their duties as employees. It is a myth that only the employer can be sued. Employers do have the ability to strike back.
Most of the cases involving claims brought by employers are against employees who have breached duties of confidentiality, fidelity or restraints of trade or who have unlawfully set up competing businesses while still working for their old employer. However it is also possible to sue employees for damage caused by negligence.
Two recent cases are good examples of the types of actions employers can bring against current or former employees:
- In Rooney Earthmoving Ltd v McTague & Ors, the employer obtained a total of $4,290,000 in damages against former employees who had used their position as employees to unlawfully solicit customers and employees away from the employer and who had used the employer’s confidential quotes and client lists to undercut the employer. These were serious breaches of fidelity and trust and confidence that had a significant financial impact on the employer.
- In Phoenix Cabs 2006 Ltd v Artho the Employment Relations Authority ordered an employee to pay an employer $10,000 being the replacement cost of a work vehicle that the employee had written off while driving drunk. She was a taxi driver. The employee was found to be negligent in her duties. She was also ordered to pay $1,225.13 in towing and storage costs.
These cases illustrate the types of claims employers can bring against employees. It’s not all one way traffic!